Two Florida street artist have filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that two Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies ordered a dog in the K-9 unit to eat them.
Humberto Pellegrino and Pedro Claveria explained this week that they had snuck into Pompano Beach train yard to paint train cars when a sheriff’s helicopter and deputies with assault rifles showed up.
The men admitted that they initially hid under one of the trains, but they said that they quickly tried to surrender, WPLG reported.
“There was a dog and I saw an assault rifle and I was like, ‘Oh wow, I think those are the cops,'” Pellegrino recalled. “We complied, we never tried to run, we never ran an inch from where we were at.”
The deputies arrest report, however, claimed that the men did not comply with orders to come out from under the train.
Claveria called that a “bold lie.”
“I came out and the first thing I said was, ‘Here are my hands, I’m sorry, I give up,'” he insisted.
According to Claveria, Deputy Gerald “Gerry” Wengert pointed an assault rifle at his head while BSO Detective Davis Acevedo ordered the K-9 unit to attack.
“It was him ripping into me and gnawing,” Claveria pointed out. “I’ve never had an animal attack me that way and it felt like it was never going to stop.”
The deputies asserted in the arrest report that the dog had to also be let loose on Pellegrino because he refused to surrender. But Pellegrino argued that wasn’t true.
“One said, ‘I think he’s ready to eat again,’ and someone said, ‘Oh, I think he’s still hungry,” Pellegrino remarked, observing that he had two choice: “Either sit here and let this dog eat you or do something stupid and get shot in the head.”
The deputies then moved the dog to his other leg, Pellegrino said.
“They kept saying, like, ‘Eat, boy. Eat, boy,’ And they were pulling the dog back every time he would latch onto me so not only was I being bit, but torn.”
Attorney David Brill, who is representing Pellegrino and Claveria, compared the attack to “seeing a knife wound in battle.”
While spending three days in the hospital, Pellegrino alleged that the officers invited their colleagues into his room to take photos of the wounds.
“They were taking pictures with their cellphones inviting all the K-9 cops to come in there and take a look,” he recalled. “Taking pictures, people that weren’t even involved in our case … and giggled and chuckled.”
Although the men were charged with felony burglary and criminal mischief, those charges were eventually dropped. Pellegrino and Claveria both pleaded guilty to trespassing.
WPLG found that Wengert, who starred in the reality TV show Unleashed: K-9 Broward County, had been acquitted in 2013 on charges that he sicced his dog on a teen for reckless driving and then lied about it.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office told WPLG that internal affairs had not investigated the current case, but the department did not rule out an investigation in the future.
Watch the video below from WPLG, broadcast Sept. 17, 2015.