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New Circleville Police body camera footage of fired officer released following K-9 arrest

Newly released body camera footage and public records from Circleville Police Department reveal more about the actions and disciplinary record of former Officer Ryan Speakman prior to the department firing him last week.

WOSU obtained the footage and several pages of personnel files and the documents detailing the Circleville Police Department's investigation into Speakman's actions through a public records request.

The records reveal it wasn't just Speakman's conduct on July 4 that led to his firing. Circleville Police Chief G. Shawn Baer also ordered Speakman not to talk about the incident to others in the department but Speakman refused to comply.

In body camera footage, Speakman is heard talking to his K-9 partner, Serj, on route to the scene where law enforcement pulled over 23-year-old truck driver Jadarrius Rose of Tennessee. Two minutes before he arrived on the scene, Speakman is heard encouraging the dog.

"Serj get ready. Are you ready to stellen? Find man? Stellen," Speakman said.

The word "stellen" is a Dutch word often used as a code word command for K-9s to bite or apprehend a suspect according to a guide from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.

Speakman, as shown in previously released body camera footage arrives on the scene and immediately gets Serj out of the patrol car. After giving several warnings and telling Rose to get on the ground "or you're going to get bit" he ran towards Rose and released the dog.

Law enforcement across the highway median from the Ohio State Highway Patrol are clearly heard giving conflicting orders to Rose, telling him to come to them. Not to get on the ground like Speakman ordered.

Related: Circleville K-9 bit unarmed Black man as he surrendered to officers, prompting internal review

When Serj is released, less than 20 seconds after Speakman arrived on the scene and exited his vehicle, the dog first charges towards the other law enforcement until Speakman gives the order.

Speakman said in his initial report narrative that he believes Serj heard the other officers yelling and ran towards them believing they needed assistance.

He then gives Serj more orders, redirecting the dog to Rose.

"Stellen. Stellen. Here, nay, nay. Stellen," Speakman said.

Through the rest of the video, Speakman talked with several officers and said "I think it is a justifiable bite."

Speakman complains to a fellow Circleville officer that the other law enforcement seemed to be mad at him.

"I don't know why they seem pissed off at me. He didn't comply I gave him three commands," he said.

He then walked to Rose and when Rose asked about why he was bitten Speakman said "You didn't comply so you got the dog."

He also went back to comfort the K-9 officer, calling Serj a "good boy."

The city of Circleville said that the city followed proper training protocols for its K-9s and claims that it meets or exceeds all of the state's requirements for K-9 training. The dogs, including Serj, are at a training facility in Pennsylvania for a previously scheduled training.

Speakman muted his body camera around 17 minutes into the video but continues to have it on as he talks to several officers inaudibly.

The records sent to WOSU detail the days following the July 4 incident from the perspective of Circleville Police Chief G. Shawn Baer and other city employees investigating the arrest.

Baer wrote in a July 25 memo that he spoke with Speakman on July 19 about reports he received that Speakman was crying and talking with other employees about being stressed over the arrest. He said Speakman was told to stop going around to everyone and talking about the K-9 deployment and later was ordered to stop after he kept doing it.

Despite this Speakman spoke to over 20 people, including family and coworkers, about it. Many times he was asked about how he was doing before he started talking about it.

Baer said Speakman begged Baer "not take his best friend from him."

Baer said if Speakman didn't do anything wrong, Serj would not be taken from him.

This conduct started an internal investigation, according to Baer. Baer said Speakman brought him the list of who he talked to, two pages, and he was placed on paid administrative leave pending a fit-for-duty review.

Baer said investigators were completing their investigation into his recent conduct where he released confidential information and was deceptive when Baer asked for information.

It is unclear whether this conduct contributed to the Circleville Police Department firing Speakman. An earlier statement said Speakman "did not meet the standards and expectations we hold for our police officers," when he helped arrest Rose.

The records also detail a previous, but unrelated, disciplinary action taken against Speakman before he was fired. The records say that Speakman was investigated and disciplined with a single-day unpaid suspension in February 2021.

The record written by Seargent Douglas Davis with the Investigations Division said that Speakman allegedly un-holstered another Circleville officer's weapon, unloaded it and pointed it at the officer.

The report said Speakman went up behind Officer Tate Van Fossen and stripped him of his firearm when Van Fossen was working on a report at a computer. Speakman then ejected all rounds from the magazine and the chamber and placed them on the table and "muzzled," or pointed the firearm at Van Fossen.

After another officer expressed his displeasure with what was going on, Speakman reloaded the magazine and the chamber and placed it back in Van Fossen's holster.

Speakman admitted to doing this to Van Fossen and apologized.

Davis, the investigator, said he investigated whether Van Fossen was bullied or hazed but he determined that wasn't accurate. He said Van Fossen said "other officers would joke with him and he would joke back, he felt that it was in fun and that he does not feel he is being treated poorly by anyone."

The Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, a police union Speakman belongs to, said Wednesday it had filed a grievance on his behalf and that he was fired without just cause.

Rose is being represented by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. He faces felony charges in Ross County for failing to comply with officers the day he was arrested.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.