LOCAL NEWS

Officer Faces Charge For Second Incident Involving K-9 Unit

May 12, 2021, 8:15 PM | Updated: May 13, 2021, 1:20 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A K-9 officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department accused of unlawfully releasing his dog on a man has been charged with doing the same thing to a woman.

As a result, 39-year-old Officer Nickolas John Pearce, has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault, both second degree felonies.   

The first charge came from an incident on April 24, 2020 when a man was attacked by Pearce’s police dog, named Tuco, after police responded to an area on a domestic violence call.

According to charging documents, Jeffery Michael Ryans was, “on his knees with his hands in the air. Pearce ordered K-9 Tuco to engage on Ryans.”

The latest charge came from a stolen vehicle stop made in the area of 600 West 100 South in Nov. 2019.

“They asked the driver to turn off the car to throw out the car keys and stick her hands out the window,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told KSL-TV.

According to the court documents, the driver,26-year-old Nellieana Langi, did “not make any threats or aggressive moves towards the officer.” Her “hands (were) extended outside the window, with no weapons in her hands.”

The reports said, “despite the fact that Langi was not making any threats… the officer told Tuco [his dog] to hit. Langi suffered significant lacerations to her left forearm, which caused permanent disfigurement due to scarring.”

“No reason to use this kind of force given the facts that were alleged in our probable cause statement,” said Gill.

Pearce’s attorney, Tara Isaacson, released the following statement:

“Officer Pearce is a police officer with 14 years experience. He has been a K-9 handler since 2010 and is a certified judge for patrol and narcotic dogs. In each case charged by the District Attorney’s Office, Officer Pearce deployed his dog in a scenario consistent with his training and with department policy.”

“Each case was reviewed by supervisors and no concerns were ever expressed.

“Each case was also previously reviewed by the district attorney’s office when charges were screened against the suspects. No concerns were raised at that time either.

“In the most recent case, the suspect was in a stolen vehicle and was reportedly non-compliant with officers. There was an extended period of time where she would not get out of the car. She could have had a weapon in the vehicle and officers were concerned for their safety.  

“That was why a K9 was brought to the scene. Dogs are used throughout the State by police departments as a form of less lethal force for use in certain scenarios. 

“We believe that the court will ultimately find that the use of a K9 in both of these instances was lawful and consistent with department policy.  

“It should be noted that the dogs used by the Salt Lake City Police Department are trained and then certified before they are used in the field.  These dogs live with their handler and their families in a home environment.”

In regards to the district attorney’s office previously reviewing the cases, Gill told Pat Reavy with the Deseret News that prosecutors at the time were only looking at the alleged crimes committed by the suspect and not the conduct of the officers, which he said is a different issue. 

Pearce was expected to be in court on the charges on June 15.  

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Randy Martin working on a reading station in West Valley City. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson)...
Mike Anderson

Utah air quality is continuing to get worse, says USU professor

A Utah State University professor says that Utahns are breathing some of the worst air we've seen in over a decade.
1 day ago
The area where first responders rescued the two people (Weber Fire District)...
Michael Houck

Two rescued from Pineview Reservoir after falling through ice

Officials are warning residents of thin ice after two people needed rescuing from the Pineview Reservoir Saturday morning. 
1 day ago
(KSL TV)...
Michael Houck

Police: Man threatening neighbors with knife, leads officers in multi-agency chase

A man is in police custody after "waving" a knife around bystanders and fleeing from police Friday evening.
1 day ago
Presenters at the Health Relationship Youth Summit asking for final questions. (KSL-TV's Mark Less)...
Alex Cabrero

Utah teens learn more about healthy relationships at youth summit

Teenagers gathered at a Healthy Relationship Youth Summit to learn more about the signs of unhealthy relationships and be able to identify them.
1 day ago
snow covered bowl in Utah mountains...
Michael Houck

Woman hit by snowmobile while tubing near Peter Sinks, flown to U of U hospital

First responders treated a woman hit by a snowmobile while tubing near the Peter Sinks area Saturday afternoon.
1 day ago
For 29 years, Mike Skogerboe has been to nearly every girls and boys basketball game, and nearly ev...
Mike Anderson

Fremont High School helps support their superfan

Students and teachers at Fremont High School teamed up to help out their superfan who rarely misses a game.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Officer Faces Charge For Second Incident Involving K-9 Unit