Commerce City Police answer questions about dog killed on Saturday

8:20 PM, Nov 26, 2012   |    comments
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Police say the dog was dangerous but some neighbors say officers went too far.

When Kenny Collins called police about an unfamiliar dog loose in his neighborhood, he had no idea his neighbor was dog sitting for a relative. He had no idea it would end with the dog dead.

"I called police because I saw a dog wandering loose out front," Collins said.

Collins' neighbor was watching a large breed dog for her cousin who was out of town for the holidays. The woman, who did not want to comment at this time, said she left the 3-year-old dog named Chloe in the garage when she left to go shopping. She thought she closed the garage upon leaving, but it seems the dog tripped the sensor forcing the garage door open. That's when Chloe started roaming the neighborhood.

"He never came at me in an aggressive manner," Collins told 9NEWS on Sunday.

However, in his two 911 calls to police on Saturday, he described the dog as aggressive.

"We're the Collins family. We got a dog that's aggressive out here," Collins told the 911 dispatcher. "It's like a big pit bull mix something. He's outside of our house, barking out our windows and stuff. [He's] barking at our neighbors. He's a big one. If I tap on the window he keeps barking at us [and] being confrontational - and we're in the house."

Sunday Collins told 9NEWS he never feared the dog, but just wanted animal control to pick it up since it was loose. But, when two police officers arrived, things took a different turn. Collins' son shot video with a cell phone of the whole incident.

"He's basically back in the garage or whatever, staying away from police," Collins said.

Collins said for about 30 minutes, the dog just sat inside the open garage door near her bed while officers decided what to do.

"You see the dog Tased whenever you see the dog drop," Collins said.

One police officer uses his Taser twice on the dog driving her back into the garage. Then, as the dog tries to run out of the garage, an officer pulls out his gun and shoots at the dog.

"[The dog is] coming out and [the animal control officer] just noosed him," Collins said.

After the first shot, the dog is captured by the animal control officer on the catch pole. But, after it is captured, a police officer fires four more shots at Chloe, killing the dog. Collins said the video shows that the animal control officer appears upset.

"You can see her or whatever," Collins said. "Obviously, she was distraught."

He said he is also troubled by the fact that at least one stray bullet hit the animal control officer's car with neighbors and kids all around.

"That bullet was fired in my direction with me standing across the street," Collins said.

Commerce City Police initially released this statement reading in part, "An animal control agent was able to place a 'catch pole' around the dog's neck. The pit bull remained extremely agitated and continued to attempt to attack the animal control agent. Due to the dog's size and aggressive demeanor, it could not be controlled on the catch pole. For the safety of the animal control agent and the community, a police officer shot and killed the dog."

But, Collins said from what he saw and from what the video shows, the dog was simply trying to run away scared.

"I totally disagree with it, totally," Collins said. "The dog was not attacking people and that's not what I said when I called 911."

Commerce City Police Detective Mike Saunders tells 9Wants to Know animals can still be dangerous and have even bitten officers while restrained.

"Yes, the dog was on the catch pole. But, it was the officer's concern that the animal control agent wasn't able to maintain control of the animal and the fear was that the animal was going to come off the catch pole and attack the officers or get loose and run back into the neighborhood putting citizens in danger," Saunders said. "They attempted to tase the dog twice however that had no effect on the dog."

Saunders says Commerce City police are now reviewing the video.

"We need time to look at the video. We need time to look over the officer's report. And we need time to speak to the officer before we can comment," Saunders said.

Saunders said if there is any wrongdoing, the department will say so.

"Obviously, this kind of force is a last resort for our officers. It truly is a tragedy any time a member of our department has to use their weapon to ensure community safety. Our initial review of this incident indicates that the officers responded appropriately to the 911 call and used the force necessary to protect the public," Chief of Police Chuck Saunier said in a statement. 

Read the full statement here.

"I have ordered a full investigationof this incident that is already underway. I am optimistic it will determine all of the facts of this tragic event. The home video is disturbing, however until the investigation is complete, it is inappropriate to speculate on the incident because we don't have all of the facts," added Saunier.

When 9NEWS tried to contact the dog's owner, who is currently traveling in California, he could not be reached for comment.
9Wants to Know showed the video to Alicia Hall, an animal behavior technician with the Dumb Friends League.
"The animal could still potentially be a danger, but if the catch pole is being used appropriately, the animal should be restrained safely. As far as I can see from the video, it looks like the dog actually walked right into the catch pole as it was coming out of the garage and was safely restrained," Hall said.

Hall added a frightened dog can be dangerous if cornered.

"The video, it's pretty far away and kind of fuzzy, so it's hard to see a lot of the dog's body postures, but what I did see is that the dog did retreat quite a bit from the police officers and the animal control officer. It ran into the garage rather than coming out of the garage. And even when he was coming out of the garage, it didn't look like he was coming after them, it looked like he was trying to get away from them," Hall said.

WARNING: The video attached is graphic.

All involved officers remain on active duty. Police reports will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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