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Commerce City officer accused of shooting death of Chloe the dog in court

5:14 PM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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VIEW SLIDESHOW OF PROTEST AT COURT ON TUESDAY

The arraignment for Officer Robert Price started at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Adams County Courthouse. Price faces a felony charge of animal cruelty. He waived his rights to a formal reading of the charges against him.

If Price is found guilty, the conviction could cost him his career as Colorado state law does not allow anyone who has been convicted of a felony to serve as a peace officer.

The Fraternal Order of Police says Price is wrongly accused, and they showed up to support the officer.

"The Fraternal Order of Police finds the charging of this officer outrageous, and not within the scope of the event," the Fraternal Order of Police released. "We have our opinion as to why the DA charged the officer. In light of the atmosphere surrounding this circus, you can judge why for yourself."

The Adams County District Attorney Dave Young released the following statement in response to the Fraternal Order of Police's statement:

"Our office makes decisions on the filing of criminal charges based upon thoughtful consideration of the evidence, not based upon outside influences or the status of the offender." 

On Tuesday, many protesters appeared to in support of Price's dismissal.

There was, however, some confusion as to which courtroom the hearing was going to be in. The front security desk sent all dog supporters and media to room No. 402 and sent all the officers supporting Officer Price to room No. 304, where the actual hearing took place. Because of this, the media and most of the dog supporters missed what happened.

The next hearing was set for April 15 at 2 p.m.

BACKGROUND

On Nov. 24, three Commerce City Police officers responded to reports of a loose, vicious dog. During the encounter, Price - a 6-year veteran of the force - shot and killed the dog.

A neighbor took cell phone video of the dog's death, which is now a key piece of evidence in the criminal investigation.

Chloe's final moments are too painful for the dog's owner, Gary Branson, to watch.

"This makes no sense. Just a waste of a good life," Branson said.

Branson left Chloe with a family member in Commerce City when she got loose.

WATCH: Raw video of police killing dog [Graphic]

As police arrived, a neighbor took cell phone video from an upstairs window. The video shows officers had Chloe restrained, when witnesses say the dog was scared and tried to run away.

Officer Price fired five shots, killing the animal.

"I really can't find the words to describe it," Branson said.

A Facebook page for Chloe has more than 3,600 likes as supporters posted pictures and messages of support.

Vigils and protests were also held for the dog.

At his home in Pueblo, Branson says it's hard to live with the pain of losing Chloe.

"The closest thing I've come to losing a family member. Every time I turn around she was there and now she's not," Branson said.

RESPONSE

On Nov. 27, the Commerce City Police Chief said the initial review of the incident indicated the officers responded with an appropriate amount of force.

"It is our opinion these officers did nothing wrong and are unfortunate victims of a sensationalized media event," "the Fraternal Order of Police said. "This matter never should have been referred to the DA's office by the department. The circumstances involved did not warrant that action. It is obvious to us that the involved officials felt the media and public focus being brought to bear on their decisions regarding this matter, and as result found it easier to act in the manner they did rather than do the right thing in this case."

On Dec. 20, District Attorney Don Quick stated Price would be charged with one count of aggravated cruelty to animals.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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