Joseph Bettaway was bitten to death by a police K-9 dog at his mother’s home in Alabama. (Photo: Family and Google Maps)
Police let their patrol dog tear an innocent black man to pieces and kill him at his mother’s home after he was mistaken for a burglar. Joseph Lee Pettaway, 51, was killed in July 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama, after a neighbor called the police on him as he was headed into his mother’s home, wrongly claiming Pettaway was an intruder. New documents revealed this week said that the family has successfully subpoenaed body camera footage of the incident. Meanwhile, the Montgomery Police Department had previously refused to confirm that the footage existed. Pettaway was attacked by a police dog, and his sister Yvonne Pettaway- Frazier said he was left brutally bitten on the pavement.
‘I saw it with my own eyes,’ she told the Montgomery Advertiser. ‘His flesh was all on the ground that morning.’ The K-9 dog bit Pettaway for nearly two minutes. Documents said that the dog’s handler, officer Nicholas Barber, stood by and watched. ‘Despite Mr Pettaway’s obvious and profuse bleeding and his apparently going into shock, no policeman examines or evaluates (Pettaway’s) wound and no policeman administers any of the most basic, essential, obvious and immediately required care to stem or reduce his bleeding,’ it said. Another officer allegedly asked Barber if Pettaway ‘got a bite,’ and Barber replied ‘Fuck yeah.’ Multiple police officers on site failed to provide any first aid to Pettaway and stood around him as he bled profusely, according to the documents. The dog handler joked with other officers and even took cell phone photos of Pettaway. Pettaway’s 87-year-old mother Lizzie Mae Pettaway demanded justice for her son. ‘They stood up there and let the dog kill him,’ she said. ‘They need to pay for what they did. If someone had killed the dog, they’d have made them pay for it. They stand out there and hold a conversation after letting the dog chew him like a piece of meat, watching him bleed to death.’ The video of the incident is said to be ‘damning’ in the documents, but the city of Montgomery has announced they will be fighting against its release. City attorney said the ‘bloody and graphic images’ of the video will provide a ‘sensationalistic’ view of the incident for jurors. Pettaway’s mother said she hopes their suit will push for increased transparency and accountability of Montgomery Police Department practices. He was somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, somebody’s uncle,’ she said. ‘He wasn’t just a piece of meat.’ She said that the case is gaining traction in part due to the national racial reckoning that is occurring in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.