A federal lawsuit is alleging that two Florida sheriff’s deputies ordered a police K-9 to eat two street artists in an incident that resulted in gruesome bite wounds.
Humberto Pellegrino and Pedro Claveria say they had snuck into a Pompano Beach train yard to paint trains when a police helicopter and deputies with the Broward sheriff’s department showed up with assault rifles.
The men assert they hid under one of the trains and quickly surrendered, but police claim that the men did not comply with orders to come out from under the train.
According to Claveria, that claim is a “bold lie,” and the man says deputy Gerald Wengert pointed an assault rifle at his head while BSO Detective Davis Acevedo ordered the K-9 unit to attack him.
“I came out and the first thing I said was, ‘Here are my hands, I’m sorry, I give up,’” Claveria said. “[The dog] was him ripping into me and gnawing. I’ve never had an animal attack me that way and it felt like it was never going to stop.”
The animal was also let loose on Pellegrino who said that he had surrendered as well.
“One [officer] said, ‘I think he’s ready to eat again,’ and [another] said, ‘Oh, I think he’s still hungry,” said Pellegrino, a 37-year-old graphic designer who also owns his own clothing line. He claims the officers then gave him two choices: “Either sit here and let this dog eat you or do something stupid and get shot in the head.”
After the deputies moved the dog to his other leg, Pellegrino says, “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.”
Pellegrino spent three days in the hospital where he says officers “were taking pictures with their cellphones inviting all the K-9 cops to come in there [to] take a look… and giggled and chuckled.”
Felony burglary and criminal mischief charges against Pellegrino and Claveria were dropped but the two men both pleaded guilty to trespassing.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office has said that no internal review or investigation of the incident has been launched.
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