Alpharetta officers cleared after K-9 bites man during arrest

The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety has cleared all officers involved in an arrest using a K-9 officer that bit the man on his arm.

It happened July 25 at a home in Alpharetta.

Alpharetta police went to Travis Moya's home when his concerned stepson called 911. In the police body camera video obtained by FOX 5, Moya's wife, Kami, can be heard explaining to Alpharetta Police Officer M.J. Esposito on the video that he was "not his normal self" and she didn't know if he took something.

His attorneys said he was in the middle of a mental health crisis, something his wife also expressed to officers.

Officer Esposito can also be heard on the body camera video warning Travis Moya that his police K-9 will bite him if he doesn't keep his distance. 

In the police report, officers say Moya's fists were balled up and he began breathing heavily - although that is not fully visible from the video's vantage point.

What happened next would leave Travis Moya with bloody bite wounds on his left arm when he was bitten by the police K-9.

What led to the attack is explained in a statement to FOX 5. Alpharetta Police say Moya "disregarded warnings, balled up his fist and swung around toward the officers actively offering violence."

Officer Esposito can be heard on the body camera giving the K-9 orders to bite Mr. Moya, at the same time other officers on the scene were trying to handcuff Moya's hands behind his back. 

Officers charged Moya with "willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence," which is a felony.

"This was not only very unnecessary, but it was savage and the entire charge was a lie," said Moya's attorney, L. Chris Stewart on Thursday.

Stewart said the decision to clear the officers comes as no surprise but argues the video shows their client is innocent.

He said Moya was wrongfully arrested, wrongfully charged, and the officers who responded to his home were out of line and used excessive force when they allowed a K-9 to bite the 36-year-old man whom they said was already on the ground and compliant. 

Stewart argues the K-9 officer escalated the situation from the get-go. The report goes on to state Mr. Moya appeared to be combative and tried to run when officers tried to restrain him and that’s why the K-9 was used but Stewart said that’s absolutely not true.

"He waited three seconds. No reasonable K-9 handler would act in this manner especially when Mr. Moya had not been violent, he did not have a weapon, he was not being argumentative, he was calling them ‘brother,’ and they let the dog loose in three seconds," Stewart said.

On Thursday, the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety released a statement reading in part:

"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."

Moya’s attorneys are asking the Department of Justice as well as the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office to look into the case. They continue to ask for the officers involved to be disciplined and held accountable. Mr. Moya filed a formal complaint on Wednesday.

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