Trooper charged, accused of allowing dog to assault suspect in Lansing arrest

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
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A Michigan State Police canine handler accused of deploying a dog on a suspect for an extended amount of time has been charged with assault, officials said.

The trooper has been suspended without pay while the criminal case goes through the court system, Michigan State Police officials said.

Trooper Parker Surbrook was charged Friday in 54-A District Court in Lansing with a count of felonious assault.

A judge set his bond at $5,000 and scheduled a probable cause conference for March 18, according to court records. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

Officials said the charges against Surbrook, a trooper assigned to the Lansing post, stem from a Nov. 13 arrest in Lansing.

At the time of the incident, Surbrook worked with a task force and was asked to assist in stopping a vehicle in which police believed the passenger was armed. The driver of the vehicle fled from authorities and ultimately crashed the car into a tree.

Surbrook and an undercover officer stopped at the site of the crash. Surbrook allegedly ordered a state police dog to subdue the vehicle's driver, who had exited the car, state police said.

The incident was recorded by the dashboard camera in Surbrook's patrol vehicle. In the footage, the alleged driver can be heard begging police to stop the dog. Michigan State Police released the video.

Warning: Strong language and graphic scenes. Undercover officers and those who weren't charged have been blurred in the video.

State police said his actions were not in keeping with the agency's professional conduct standards or the training and policies for canine handlers. In the video, and according to an investigator's report, the encounter between the dog and the suspect goes on for more than three minutes.

Officials said they became aware of the incident Dec. 4 during a routine review. A supervisor reviewing video of the incident recognized multiple policy violations and filed a complaint.

The agency placed Surbrook on leave Dec. 8 and started a criminal investigation. A detective with the state police's Third District, which covers Michigan's Thumb and Tri-Cities area, conducted the investigation.

It presented the findings to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office on Feb. 11.

“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,” Col. Joe Gasper, director of the MSP, said in a statement. “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.”

Surbrook joined the state police in 2012, officials said. He became a canine handler in 2017.

He has been removed from the MSP's Canine Unit and his canine was reassigned to another handler, they said.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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