A police constable has been cleared of using his dog as a weapon to “vent his contempt” for criminals.
PC Paul Jackson, 36, was accused of deploying his dog to injure five men police were following.
A jury at Preston Crown Court cleared PC Jackson, from Radcliffe, of five counts of wounding with intent and five counts of causing grievous bodily harm.
His colleague, PC Paul Lockett, was also acquitted of aiding and abetting one of the alleged assaults.
Sam Green QC, instructed by Chris Fallows of Slater & Gordon Solicitors, represented PC Paul Lockett and secured his acquittal.
It was alleged PC Jackson used German shepherd dog Jerry in separate incidents between August 2015 and September 2016 while working for the tactical vehicle intercept unit of Greater Manchester Police (GMP).
The former lifeguard said he acted lawfully at all times in a reasonable and proportionate manner.
PC Lockett, 37, from Altrincham, was also cleared of misconduct in a public office.
PC Jackson was investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after allegations about his use of the dog and claims of excessive force.
The officer was accused of using German shepherd Jerry to injure five men
The five complainants who gave evidence at the trial all have previous convictions – ranging from cannabis possession and driving offences to burglary and murder.
Jurors heard PC Jackson had received three commendations – including two Chief Constable’s Awards – since he joined GMP in 2008.
In 2010 he rugby-tackled a man who doused himself in petrol and threatened to set himself alight with his family nearby.
Five years later, he helped detain a gang who raided a farmhouse in Hull and tortured a couple.
The decision to prosecute was criticised by the Police Federation GMP branch chairman Stu Berry, who called it a “farce from start to finish”.
He added: “We now face a situation where dog handlers are reluctant to do their job.”