The family of a man who was killed by police in his mother’s home is fighting to have the bodycam footage of the incident released by police.
Joseph Lee Pettaway, 51, was mauled to death in July 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama by a police dog. Officers arrived on the scene after a neighbor called the police on Pettaway as he was walking into his mother’s home. The neighbor told the police that Pettaway was an intruder.
Although the Montgomery Police Department had originally refused to confirm that the body camera footage existed, new documents revealed this week said that the family has successfully subpoenaed video of the incident.
According to the court documents, Pettaway was at a house that was owned by his 87-year-old mother on July 8, 2018. He had been looking after his elderly mother and helping her fix up her home. Pettaway had a key to the home and was sleeping there.
Someone in the area saw Pettaway entering the vacant house and called the police to report him as an intruder. Officer Nicholas Barber responded to the call and arrived at the house with his K-9 dog. The dog searched the premises and ran inside towards Pettaway, lunging at him.
The court documents state that the dog attacked Pettaway and officer Barber failed to stop the attack. According to the documents, Barber stood by and allowed the man to be mauled for two minutes before intervening.
The K-9 tore an artery in Pettaway’s groin causing him to bleed out and later die from the wounds at the hospital.
Pettaway’s sister Yvonne Pettaway- Frazier said he was left brutally bitten on the pavement.
‘I saw it with my own eyes,’ she told the Montgomery Advertiser. ‘His flesh was all on the ground that morning.’
According to court documents, no police officers at the scene attempted to give Pettaway first aid and stood around him as he bled out on the ground.
‘Despite Mr. Pettaway’s obvious and profuse bleeding and his apparently going into shock, no policeman examines or evaluates (Pettaway’s) wound and no policeman administers any of the most basic, essential, obvious and immediately required care to stem or reduce his bleeding,’ it said.
The document also alleges that officer Barber joked with other officers and took cell phone photos of Pettaway before moving him outside, as officers appear to wait for EMS personnel to arrive. According to the documents, another officer asked Barber if Pettaway got “a bite” and Barber allegedly replied, “F— yeah.”
Pettaway’s 87-year-old mother Lizzie Mae Pettaway is demanding justice for her son. ‘They stood up there and let the dog kill him,’ she said. ‘They need to pay for what they did. If someone had killed the dog, they’d have made them pay for it. They stand out there and hold a conversation after letting the dog chew him like a piece of meat, watching him bleed to death.’
The family is now fighting the “confidential” designation of the video and wants the bodycam footage of the attack be entered into public evidence.
The video of the incident is said to be ‘damning’ in the documents, but the city of Montgomery has announced they will be fighting against its release.
City attorney said the ‘bloody and graphic images’ of the video will provide a ‘sensationalistic’ view of the incident for jurors.
Pettaway’s mother said she hopes the lawsuit will help push for increased transparency and accountability of Montgomery Police Department and their practices.
“He was somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, somebody’s uncle,” she said. “He wasn’t just a piece of meat.”
A federal judge has scheduled an October hearing on the matter.