Former Alpharetta police officer indicted in K-9 attack during arrest

Charges against victim Travis Moya were dropped

Credit: Courtesy Stewart Miller Simmons

Credit: Courtesy Stewart Miller Simmons

A former Alpharetta Police officer will be prosecuted on criminal charges for the 2021 K-9 attack that injured a man outside his home.

Michael Esposito was indicted by a Fulton County Grand Jury Tuesday on charges of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and violation of oath of office.

Esposito was the handler of a police K-9 that attacked Travis Moya as he was being arrested outside his home in July 2021. A police review of the incident cleared Esposito and the responding officers of any wrongdoing.

Earlier this year, Alpharetta was considering helping the former officer with legal costs. City officials on Wednesday declined comment on the pending legal matter.

The District Attorney’s Office dropped charges against Moya, which included three felony obstruction charges as well as misdemeanor obstruction resulting from the arrest. Moya and his wife, Kami, say the incident has taken a physical, mental and emotional toll on their lives.

A body camera worn by Esposito shows 11 minutes of video from his arrival outside the Moya home, and events that unfolded after more officers arrived. Video includes Moya pinned face-down to the ground by officers and the K-9 mauling his shoulder.

Police were sent to the home after Moya’s stepson told a 911 dispatcher his stepfather was outside behaving in a manner he thought could escalate. Kami Moya can be heard in the background asking for an ambulance and not the police.

During a Wednesday phone call through Stewart Miller Simmons law firm, Moya said he has numbness and an ongoing infection in his arm from the K-9 attack, and spasms in his hand.

And the trauma of the day of his arrest remains, he said.

“Every day when I pull up in the yard it’s the same location where this occurred,” Moya said. “And of course, just a simple task of driving around, you see police. I’m double checking and triple checking, looking around.”

For months after the incident, the 38-year-old was unable to maintain employment and pass company background checks until the arrest charges were dropped, Kami Moya said.

He now works for the U.S. Postal Service.

“Even though it was two years ago, it still feels like today,” Kami said. “We’re still healing ... We’re still picking up the pieces ... It’s been very, very tough on our family mentally, physically, financially.”

Moya’s attorney filed a civil action last year against Esposito, the city of Alpharetta, Police Chief John Robison, Lt. R.A. Splawn and Esposito’s fellow police officers who responded to the 911 call at Moya’s residence. The other officers are J.J. Frudden and Christopher Benfield.

Attorney Chris Stewart said Alpharetta has not tried to resolve the lawsuit and he expects years of litigation.

“You can support law enforcement like all of us in this room do and you can hold the ones who hurt people accountable,” Stewart said of Alpharetta.