Saginaw police body camera video shows what led up to K-9 stabbing, man’s death

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 7:31 PM EDT
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - ABC 12 News has obtained the police body camera footage of the death of a Saginaw man, who stabbed a police K-9.

Earlier this week, the family of Zane Blaisdell sued the city, the police chief and others involved, saying police used excessive force. After the shooting, the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office ruled the shooting was justified and no charges were filed against the officers.

The legal action comes from Blaisdell’s aunt, Mia Blaisdell. Her attorney says police should have used more patience in dealing with the man who they knew had a history of mental illness.

The incident began at about 8 a.m. on Feb. 9. Officer Jordan Englehart was called to a home on Sheridan Avenue for a possible domestic violence situation.

The neighbor of Blaisdell had called, saying Blaisdell was throwing items from his own home and that he’s had manic episodes in the past that have brought police to the home.

“Zane open up, its the police department,” Englehart can be saying several times over several minutes on the body camera video.

About seven minutes later, Englehart can see a man in the window, who is Blaisdell’s partner.

“Are you being kidnapped? Are you being held against your will? You are,” Englehart said as he appears to see the man nod his head.

When the man nodded his head, Englehart called for more police help. A short time later, there was a struggle to get the door open. Englehart broke through and tried to deploy a Taser on Blaisdell, who took off. The man being held captive left the house.

“Get outside,” Englehart and other officers tell the man.

Police look for Blaisdell, who they believe ran into the home. Police believe he has a weapon.

“He probably has a large kitchen knife in his hand,” Englehart can be heard saying on the video.

Saginaw Police K-9 handler Rob Adams arrived with his partner, K-9 Deebo, and was told that Blaisdell has a history of mental illness.

“Lots of 48 issues,” Englehart tells Adams.

Forty-eight is a police code for mental illness. Because Blaisdell is suspected of a kidnapping, which is a felony, police policy allowed for Deebo to be deployed in an attempt to arrest the suspect.

“Saginaw police with a K-9, make yourself known or you will get bit,” Adams yells into the home on the video.

Adams makes that statement or similar ones at least 10 times. Adams is advised by Saginaw Police Officer Vincent Jackson about the knife.

“You send that dog in, he has a knife. You know what he’s going to do with that knife,” Jackson is heard saying.

About two minutes after that, Adams released Deebo into the home.

“Dog’s out,” an officer is heard saying.

Seconds later, Deebo found Blaisdell and bit him. Blaisdell stabbed the dog in the head.

The video shows Blaisdell lying on the floor when officers opened fire.

The lawsuit states Englehart fires 10 shots at Blaisdell and Adams fired twice. Blaisdell was dead. Adams removed the long knife from Deebo’s head and rushed him to a veterinarian.

Deebo has made a full recovery and is back performing K-9 duties.

Jennifer Damico is the attorney representing Mia Blaisdell, who is suing the city, police chief Bob Ruth and the five officers who were involved.

“He had been unable to get to his doctor, so he had been off his medications for a few weeks,” Damico said.

Since police believed no one else was in the house, she said there was no need to call for a K-9.

“They contemplated calling a mental health special response team on the scene,” she said. “They knew he was off his medication. They knew he was in the midst of a crisis. They knew no one else was in the house. They knew he had a knife. They could see him in the house, if they just slowed down.”

The federal lawsuit lists five counts, including wrongful death.

“It’s a constitutional violation. It never had to happen,” Damico said. “The loss of life didn’t have to happen. The injury to that poor dog didn’t have to happen.”

City Manager Tim Morales said the city does not make comments on pending litigation.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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