Alpharetta K-9 attack: Police review backs officers; attorneys want dog’s handler charged

Alpharetta police and attorneys for a man bitten by a police dog released opposing opinions on the incident Thursday.

Alpharetta Police Chief John Robison stood behind his officers’ actions when they went to the home of Travis Moya while responding to a 911 emergency call in July.

“After conducting a thorough review of the interaction, including all the audio and video recordings and officer statements, the Alpharetta Police determined that there was no violation of departmental policy, or federal or state law regarding necessary use of force standards by peace officers, Robison said in a statement on the department’s review of the use of force against Moya.

Within 90 minutes of police emailing the statement to media, attorneys for Moya, who was attacked by the K-9 officer outside his home July 25, said police should not have had the dog at the scene.

“I think the tape and the police reports and the witnesses show that at no point was he (Moya) actively resisting the law,” attorney Gerald Griggs said at a downtown Atlanta press conference attended by Moya and his family members.

Other attorneys with the Stewart Miller Simmons law firm said they are calling for criminal charges against the dog’s handler and discipline of the other officers at the scene. They also called on the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss felony obstruction charges against Moya.

Attorney Chris Stewart said Moya has filed a formal complaint against the police officers involved. The attorneys said their client suffered injuries, including dog bites and a concussion, during the arrest which occurred after Moya’s stepson told a 911 dispatcher his stepfather was outside behaving in a manner he thought could escalate. Moya’s wife, Kami Moya, can be also be heard on the 911 recording telling the dispatcher her husband needed an ambulance. She said she wanted an ambulance, not police.

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Travis Moya is taken into custody by Alpharetta police officers at his home. Moya, charged with felony obstruction, was bitten by a police dog. (Images from Alpharetta police video)

Travis Moya is taken into custody by Alpharetta police officers at his home. Moya, charged with felony obstruction, was bitten by a police dog. (Images from Alpharetta police video)

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Travis Moya is taken into custody by Alpharetta police officers at his home. Moya, charged with felony obstruction, was bitten by a police dog. (Images from Alpharetta police video)

Stewart disputed the official account of the incident, saying the bodycam footage released by police doesn’t match their words. The attorney pointed to the police report’s reference to the call as a “domestic disturbance” and noted that the officers had been made aware by the dispatcher and Kami Moya that it actually was a mental health situation.

Stewart said the police dog’s handler riled up his fellow officers by telling them over the radio that Stewart was being disorderly.

“Disorderly is actually a charge,” Stewart said. “He wasn’t charged with that. (The police officer) heightened the situation ... because a Black man asked, ‘Who called you.’”

The attorney also contrasted the video and police report, which says: “Mr. Moya was in the driveway balling up both his fist and tensing up his arms which indicated to me that he was ready to fight us. He took off his shirt and threw it on the ground.”

The video doesn’t show those actions taking place.

Stewart accused the officers of writing the report in a way that would justify the use of force against Moya.

Moya didn’t speak during the press conference but attorney Madeleine Simmons said his recovery includes his taking two different antibiotics for infections and visits to an orthopedist because of damage to his shoulder.

“So these injuries are real and two fulltime working individuals (Moya and his wife Kami) now have to address his recovery,” Simmons said.

Robison, Alpharetta’s police chief, said in his statement that his department is committed to the annual training of officers in the handling of “situations that they may be asked to face, whether routine traffic stops, drug overdoses, negotiating with a suicidal individual, or dealing with the more infrequent occurrence in Alpharetta of serious violent crime.”

“The goal of the Alpharetta police is to ensure, to the extent possible, that everyone (police officers, victims, and alleged perpetrators) walks away safely from any interaction,” Robison added.