Attorney plans to file $1 million lawsuit against trooper, MSP in K9 assault case

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 17:35:57-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Robert Gilliam III said he was pleading for his life the night Michigan State Police Trooper Parker Surbrook is accused of using his K9 partner to torture Gilliam who had led them on a chase in Lansing back in November.

"I'm begging him to stop the dog and he's telling me no," Gilliam said Thursday, standing next to civil rights attorney Maurice Davis and family members outside federal court in downtown Detroit where Davis said he plans to file a lawsuit against Surbrook and MSP, demanding $1 million.

Surbrook has been on unpaid leave since he was charged with one count of felonious assault earlier this year.

Gilliam is expected to testify at Surbrook's preliminary examination Friday under an immunity agreement.

"When the dog attacked me and stayed on me, I feared for my life," Gilliam said. "I thought my life was about to end right then and there."

Davis accused Surbrook of weaponizing his police dog when Gilliam was not a threat because of the color of his skin.

"He didn't care about a black man being mauled by his canine," Davis said.

Gilliam admits he wasn't going to speak up about what happened to him and even tried to avoid investigators until his girlfriend showed him an article in a national news magazine about Michigan State Police investigating one of their own, accusing the trooper of assaulting a man with his police dog.

Gilliam knew he was that man.

State police opened the investigation during a routine examination of incidents involving use of force.

MSP also released the dashcam video where Gilliam can be heard begging the trooper to call off his police dog.

Davis said his client didn't stop for police because he was scared of becoming a victim of excessive force.

"Trooper Surbrook does not get to decide what Mr. Gilliam's punishment is," Davis said. "Black lives matter and if you are indifferent or do not care about Black lives, then you have no business being on anyone's police force."

MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper has gone on record calling Trooper Surbrook’s "disregard" of Gilliam's pleas for help "totally unacceptable.”

Surbrook's police dog has been reassigned to another handler.