Hillsdale Police arrest Andy Dewaine Bailey. Courtesy | Youtube

The Hillsdale City Police Department is receiving threats from the public after a video went viral that depicts officers in an encounter with a dog at large on March 21. 

Police officers Todd Holtz and Dustin Simms encoun­tered the dog when responding to a “dis­turbing the peace” com­plaint about Andy Dewaine Bailey, Hillsdale City Police Chief Scott Hephner said. After resolving the con­flict with Bailey, a loose pitbull started aggres­sively moving toward the officers while they walked away, Hephner said. 

“They were trying to figure out who the owner of the dog was and at one point in time one officer deployed one shot of pepper spray into the air near the dog and the dog backed up,” Hephner said. 

A female bystander called the dog’s owner to inform her that her dog was on the loose, Hephner said. The bystander was helpful until the owner returned from downtown, then both of the women and Bailey started yelling at the officers. 

“They were trying to get her iden­ti­fi­cation so that he could issue the citation, and he was ver­bally cre­ating an inter­ference and obstructing that inves­ti­gation which he inter­jected himself into and had no business doing that,” Hephner said. 

The officers wore body cameras that cap­tured the encounter with the dog. The City of Hillsdale released those videos to the public on Facebook on March 28. 

“We have body camera footage from both officers which we have pub­lished which clearly shows the officer never went after the dog, touched the dog, or beat the dog, so that never hap­pened,” Hephner said.

The bystander recorded what hap­pened when the officers were trying to get the iden­ti­fi­cation of the dog owner, Hephner said. When officers arrested Bailey, the bystander posted the video to Facebook. Afterward, another indi­vidual, who calls himself James Freeman, reposted the video to his YouTube channel, claiming an officer had beaten the dog with a baseball bat. 

Hephner said this viral video, which racked up more than 100,000 views, presents a false nar­rative and caused backlash against the department.

“This untruth ini­tiated a nationwide cam­paign, if you will, of people con­tacting the police department and the city, making threats, including death threats,” Hephner said. 

The bodycam footage does not appear to show either officer at the scene beating the dog.

The prosecutor’s office charged Bailey with dis­turbing the peace and resisting and obstructing an officer, according to police records. In 2020, police arrested Bailey for pos­session of methamphetamine. 

Mayor Adam Stockford released a statement March 26 saying that he found many of the hys­terical phone calls he received to be hypocritical. 

“Trans­parency is important to us and that is exactly why we have our officers wear body cams, for their safety and the public’s safety,” Stockford said. “I can tell you per­sonally, some of the things being said regarding the video are untrue.”

Stockford said the city released the entirety of the body camera footage so the public can see the true narrative. 

Although Hephner said it is unfor­tunate that the nar­rative has esca­lated, no one was injured in the incident, which he said is one of his biggest priorities.