Norfolk Police Chief on use of K-9 force in detaining NSU student: “It’s my fault”

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Norfolk, Va. - Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith is taking responsibility and taking action after a Norfolk State University was attacked by a police K-9 over the weekend.

The family of 20-year-old London Colvin says she got more than 40 stitches and needs plastic surgery after this weekend's attack.

Police say it happened on January 25th. They were called out to Godfrey Street for a fight involving 35 people.  Police told NewsChannel 3 the officers used the K-9 because they were outnumbered and because Colvin was being disorderly.

Colvin's friends and family are demanding justice, saying police crossed the line.

Chief Goldsmith stepped up Thursday, releasing a statement addressing the incident, stating that based on the information he has received, he has determined the use of force in Colvin's arrest to be unreasonable.

"Since January 25th, my department has been investigating the arrest of London Colvin.  While we continue to wrap up the final few interviews with witnesses and officers, I feel I have enough information to determine the use of force in Ms. Colvin’s arrest was unreasonable.

I will address my officers’ actions through our disciplinary process.

My review of the policies governing the use of police canines continue.  This review will ensure that Norfolk canines are used appropriately in all circumstances.   As Chief, I am responsible for the policies and procedures that govern my officers’ actions.  While I expect my officers to make the best judgment in all circumstances, if the policy doesn’t support the outcomes I expect, I have failed them.  I am committed to having the best trained department and I will make this right."

"It's my fault," Chief Goldsmith said in a press conference on Thursday. "We had other levels of force we could have gone to to accomplish the arrest for Ms. Colvin. The use of the K-9 was not necessary in this case. It was unreasonable use of it."

Witnesses say  Colvin, who got punched in the fight, didn't want to speak to officers when they questioned her because she was upset. Her friends who were there said Colvin tried to walk away when out of nowhere she was pinned to the ground by police and attacked by the German Shepherd.

"We had officers who had pepper spray, who had tasers, we had police batons, there were other options that could have been used at that point besides the K-9," the chief said.

NewsChannel 3 has tried to speak to Colvin herself to get her version of the story, but she has been advised by the NAACP not to talk to the media. However, Colvin did say she was "glad to hear the news" of Chief Goldsmith's decision and that she will continue consulting with the NAACP regarding moving forward on getting her charges of Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest dropped.

Since the incident, friends and family have been stepping forward to come to her defense.

"Do you see her legs," Colvin's cousin Whitney Dunn asked NewsChannel 3. "That gets me angry, it gets me sad. I cried with her mom because we don't understand, London doesn't understand why they would do that, why they would put those dogs on her?"

"It has everything to do with the police feeling like they are untouchable," said witness Ray'Shaun Beckett. "They can do whatever they want because they have that badge."

Beckett was there when it all went down. He says he, Colvin and other friends were leaving a house party when the huge fight broke out. He says both he and Colvin were punched out of nowhere.

"When she was punched in the face, she fell on the ground and that's what initially set her off," Beckett said.

He admits, Colvin got mad. So he and another friend, Carmen Chatman tried to calm her down. Chatman says that's when police showed up.

"London was walking away," Chatman said.  "She didn't want to talk to the officers, she didn't want to talk to anyone."

Both Beckett and Chatman says that's when police tackled Colvin to the ground and pinned her. They say she was down for a few minutes when they saw the police K-9 latch to her legs.

"From what we saw, London was already being detained on the ground. I don’t remember her trying to flinch or push herself up or try to get up or run away," Chatman added.

Now, her friends and family are seeking justice. Hoping that the officers involved will lose their badge.

"The officers were wrong," her cousin said.

Chief Goldsmith says once he completes his review of the use of police canines, he will make the revised policy available publicly.

NewsChannel 3 got a copy of the current policy Friday. Click here to read what it says.

"It's up to me to make sure our policies are right, to make sure the officers have the appropriate tools to use, and to make sure we give them the tools we use to make the best judgment to guarantee the best outcome we can when we have to take police action," he says.

Norfolk State University also provided a statement regarding the incident:

“We are aware of the incident involving one of our students this past weekend. Our main concern, as it would be with any student, is Ms. Colvin’s well-being, safety, as well as supporting her academic pursuits.”

“The nature of her involvement with law enforcement is a separate issue and all questions should be referred to the Norfolk Police Department.” 

Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim also released a  statement about the incident.

“Police officers have to make split-second judgments and decisions.  Typically, Norfolk police officers make the right calls, “ said Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim. “However, when you make poor judgments, you have to own up to it and that’s what we are doing.  I think we have all learned that you have got to be constantly vigilant to make sure that we are in good communication with the community and that you maintain good relationships.” 

35 comments

  • jamiecardoza

    Typical norfolk cop wall of blue silence. The cop did nothing wrong blah blah blah. Cops should not be tried in cities they work for period. Conflict of interest. This cop will get off because the stats say it. Norfolk cops another racist bunch of thugs.

    • sickofit

      Yep …..knew there would be a fool comment. Like Norfolk State hasnt got sum sort of termoil on campus nearly every weekend. Sure will be glad when all officers have camera’s and the news shows the footage is shown (especially for Idiots that want to say everything is racist)

  • The REAL REALIST

    Same song and dance. Nothing is going to change. Whites hate blacks and blacks don’t trust whites. This has been going on for 400+ years. If you think things are going to change you are delusional. Honestly, we do need a change and it’s segregation. Each race get’s a part of the US and govern it how they see fit. I say that with the fact that each society will crubble. No one race can survive without the other. Once we figure out that one race can’t survive without the other, the ugliness of this one sided cycle will finally be dissolved.

  • The People

    Someone set them self up by not following the police’ commands as instructed to ! I don’t know all the facts, but maybe the dog being released on this person (female) may have been a bit much ! And is this is the truth, it’s just a supposed witness’s account of things that took place posted by WTKR staff. I hope the girl heals up quickly and these get resolved fairly. Don’t react to things or comment until all the facts are presented!

  • The People

    And why can’t we all just get along ! Even more so, why do the African Americans cause so much hatred and discontent among their own kind these days? No race is perfect and that is a cold hard fact! The apocalypse is in place and slowing happening every day, things will only get worse as society and mankind are doomed because of their own actions !

    • Timmy McFadden

      The groids decided to riot and then disobey lawful orders and resist arrest. Then they get upset when the police do their job. February is black history month. I guess they were celebrating early.

  • a2bailey

    Dogs were used during slavery to hunt down runaways. Dogs were also used during the 60s during the height of the Civil Rights protests, it seems some things never change.

    • odu professor

      dogs have been used to hunt down criminals for thousands of years. hangings have been used to punish criminals for thousands of years. this is nothing unique to your race. pick up a history book sometime, you may learn something. alot of stuff happened before 1492.

    • a2bailey

      The thugs are the ones with the badges, Question, what can these Gestapo cops do that ISN’T justified, especially when dealing with black people? I just hope the dog catches an infection is dies a painful death, and his goon handler is fired. But of course the department will hold an “internal investigation” and declare themselves free of any wrong doing.

      • trish

        Put your race card away, we are tired of seeing it. Keep running your mouth about how bad cops are and then see how you feel when something happens and you need one…..yep, they will come running to save or help you…..people like you are so ignorant.

  • Mark Pen

    London doesn’t understand why they would do that, why they would put those dogs on her?”
    Yes she does. She knows it’s because she was being a DA & not cooperating. Actually she was making matters worse. She has noone to blame but herself. When confronted by the police, cooperate fully or sit down & shut up. You don’t have to talk to them w/out council, but it isn’t smart to start running your mouth & being a PITA.

  • chip

    It’s a shame that this young lady got injured. I’m sure it was a painful lesson. When you play and party in the presence of thugs and losers bad things can happen. I’d bet $$$ that had she complied with the directions of the police when first asked to stop and answer questions, none of this would have happened. She should seriously consider who she hangs out with in the future and try to avoid punks and thugs at all costs.
    If you want to play you will likely pay.
    I wish you luck and a speedy recovery

  • trish

    Bad call WTKR to run this story at the angle that you did. Way to make it sound like the police officers did something wrong or are “bad” for doing what they did. Do I think this woman was deserving of what happen, no, with that being said though..even her friends admit that she wasn’t listening to the police officers. I can only imagine the chaos that was going on with a group of 35 people arguing/fighting. The police officers arrive and have to evaluate the situation and when people are heated they are loud, they aren’t listening and when she walked away how were they to know that she was not going to do something to bring harm to them or someone else. Seems to me that blame needs to be placed where it is due and that is NOT on the police officers. As unfortunate as it is, it is just something that happens when you decide you are above the law and do what you want when a police officer asks you to calm down and talk to them. Most police officers don’t act like they are untouchable as indicated by the witness in your story….rather, people act like they are above the law! Had the police officers done nothing and something worse happen they would have been blamed for not doing enough. They can’t win for anything right now and that is sad. I am sorry this young lady was hurt and I wish her the best. A lesson for all though, no matter how you look at it. In my house it is a lesson of respecting the law or bad things happen.

  • Love

    Wow, I wish people stop making it a race issue. The problem is how to handle a situation, find a common grown for police and the community. I believe, she may not had comply with the police, and they did their job, however the K9’s was a bit much. So hopefully Norfolk police find money to buy cameras to wear, pay for her college and let it be. Also may I comment, I have find it sickening that people still have hate in their hearts. JESUS!!! Its not that serious, like honesty I wish people could cleanse their hearts.

  • Nichelle

    The comments people have left on this story are deplorable. I hope all of you sit down and take a good hard look at the way you talk about and treat your fellow man. If these comments are any indication of how people actually think (and will then teach others to think) I sincerely hope that these are just trolls sitting behind a computer. Black, white, yellow, green, blue no one should trash an entire group of people. Humans are responsible for their own individual actions, not that of a collective group. My thoughts to all involved.

  • Bob D

    Really? Don’t just give London the hall pass. Just walking out of a fight doesn’t mean you get to stroll away and not talk. Why send the cops then. Just punch, shoot, stab one another and whoever is left standing, is innocent. If you get pulled for DUI, just lock up your car, and start walking.

  • prob

    35 fighting animals. Put cameras on dogs. Rubber teeth. Soft foam tipped claws. Twenty years old equals underage consumption. Sure it was just cake and cool ade… excuses for all!

  • John Mclean

    we as black ‘s been sitting around this common wealth slave state for too long not saying sit you better open your eyes it’s time to stand up or go back to being a slave

  • SB

    Some of you Whites are so hateful its disgusting! Like you all breed hate, its in your blood, its really sick. Europeans never cease to amaze me. I’m Sure if it was a little white girl walking home from a white frat party this would’ve never happened! Like I always say Whites/ Europeans can act a fool, fight and curse out the police, trash their schools, trespass and everything else under the sun and walk away from the police scratch free! Whites can be crazy as hell, shoot up movie theaters, and schools and be taken into custody without further incident. White folks stop pointing the finger take your blinders off, stop breeding hate, and educate yourselves about police brutality, because one day it may be you!

    • a2bailey

      Like those white Ohio State students after they won the national championship? But white privilige is being able to riot and have the media classify you as “revelers”.

  • Andrea

    I’m very impressed with the young lady that was interviewed for this story who, when asked if this was a race issue, replied no It isn’t a black or white issue. The problem is these police officers who believe themselves to be above the law.
    Well said young lady. Thank you for keeping it real.

  • plusSense

    The irrespnsible and highly emotional comments need to be left out of news media accounts. The police chief has already admitted the police were at fault here and is taking appropriate action with further investigation and policy review. These emotionally charged statements, by those who know little of the actual facts, do little to help solve the matter and are actually harmful to the community.

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