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Trooper charged with felony for leaving dog on suspect

Trooper charged with felony for leaving dog on suspect
The K9 can be seen biting at the suspect and tearing his hoodie off in the left lower part of this screenshot from the dash cam footage, while Trooper Surbrook is on the far right, where he was helping an undercover officer subdue a second suspect who had a gun.

Parker Surbrook, a Michigan State Police (MSP) trooper assigned to the Lansing Post, was arraigned in the 54-A District Court on one count of Felonious Assault related to his on-duty actions during an arrest that occurred on Nov. 13, 2020, in the City of Lansing.

Surbrook, an MSP canine handler, was working with a multijurisdictional task force when he was requested to perform a traffic stop on a vehicle where the passenger was believed to be armed. The vehicle fled and shortly thereafter, crashed into a tree. Surbrook and an undercover officer from a local police department responded to the scene. Upon arrival, Surbrook deployed his canine on the driver who was on the ground outside of the vehicle. Surbrook left his canine deployed on the driver for an extended period of time (almost 4 minutes) despite the suspect begging him to call the dog off, which was biting him as he lay on the ground with a broken hip. Instead, Surbrook just kept telling the suspect  not to move and telling the dog to “stay on him.”

The Michigan State Police said that Surbrook’s actions during this incident, which were captured on his patrol vehicle’s in-car camera, were not in keeping with the standards of professional conduct expected by members of the MSP, nor do the totality of his actions fully align with training and policy for canine handlers.

The MSP said they became aware of this incident on Dec. 4, 2020, during a routine review. A supervisor reviewing video of the incident immediately recognized multiple policy violations and filed a complaint with the department’s Professional Standards Section (PSS). After review of the video by the PSS, Surbrook was placed on leave effective Dec. 8, 2020, and a criminal investigation commenced. The results of that investigation were presented to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office for review on Feb. 11, 2021.

“The Michigan State Police is an agency that prides itself in our troopers’ abilities to react with calm and confidence even in the most dangerous and harrowing of circumstances,” stated Col. Joe Gasper, director of the MSP. “While the unfortunate reality for police officers is that use of force is sometimes a necessary action to ensure the protection of themselves or others, care and concern for human life should always be at the forefront of any police officer’s actions. This makes Trooper Surbrook’s disregard of the driver’s pleas for help totally unacceptable.” 

The MSP said they have a long-standing tradition of demanding the highest possible standards of professional conduct from its enforcement and civilian members. To that end, all allegations of misconduct are aggressively investigated. Alleged violations of administrative rules are also investigated thoroughly and acted upon in a manner consistent with current labor-relations law and bargaining unit agreements. Regardless of whether a criminal charge results in a conviction, employees can still be subject to administrative penalties resulting from violations of department policy. 

Surbrook joined the MSP in October 2012. He became a canine handler in June 2017. As a result of this incident, he was removed from the Canine Unit and his canine was reassigned to another handler.

Surbrook will remain on unpaid suspension pending adjudication of the criminal case. 

In the interest of transparency, the MSP is making the in-car video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=CgQxFemaDTo&feature=youtu.be, as well as the investigative report (www.michigan.gov/documents/mspnewsroom/748-20_Redacted_web_718350_7.pdf) which was conducted by a detective from the MSP’s Third District. Redactions have been made to both in order to protect individuals not charged with a crime and undercover officers.

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