Dog owner Gary Branson is hoping justice will be served for his dog Chloe after an officer fatally shot her while she was at a relative’s home in Commerce City, Colorado.
Commerce City Police Officer Robert Price was filmed on November 24th fatally shooting the 3-year-old Labrador Retriever mix.
Police asked the district attorney's office to conduct an investigation into the incident and as result, investigators found evidence to charge the officer with aggravated cruelty to animals, a class six felony. Other aspects of the case are still under investigation by the Adams County District Attorney's office.
A neighbor filmed footage of the incident and posted it online. Dog lovers were immediately angered and questioned why Chloe was tasered twice and then shot multiple times after the video footage appeared to indicate the dog was scared rather than "vicious" as police stated after the shooting.
Police had received a 911 call from Kenny Collins who noticed an unfamiliar dog loose on the street. At the time, Kenny was unaware his neighbor was taking care of Chloe for a cousin during the holidays, and had no idea that the dog would end up dead as result of his call. Collins called 911 after the dog barked outside of their house and kept barking and appeared confrontational.
His neighbor later said she had left Chloe in the garage while she went out shopping, but said the dog must have triggered the garage door sensor and gotten out by accident. She faces violations of including possession of a vicious animal and violation of the city's Pit Bull ban.
Kenny's' son filmed the police handling Chloe on his cell phone from across the street. Although police maintain that the dog was aggressive, according to Kenny, the dog sat inside the open garage for about 30 minutes near her dog bed while officers decided what to do. The video footage shows that after Chloe was tased, she dropped and then tried to run out of the garage, when she was caught by the animal control officer with a catch pole. She appears to be frightened and trying to escape the catch pole, when she was then shot at five times.
Kenny Collins told 9News Denver, "Obviously, she was distraught." Kenny completely disagreed with the police officers' statement that the dog was aggressive. He said that from what he saw and from what the video shows, the dog was scared. "I totally disagree with it, totally," Kenny said. "The dog was not attacking people and that's not what I said when I called 911."
Kenny does, however, refer to the dog as aggressive in his recorded 911 call, stating: We're the Collins family. We got a dog that's aggressive out here. 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.
Gary is a retired resident of Pueblo and said Chloe was a friendly, gentle dog. She was with him all the time and even served as his therapy dog after he had triple-bypass heart surgery.
"She was friendly with everybody," Gary said. "She loved being around people, loved attention. My youngest niece, who is 5, and Chloe were pretty much best friends." He said the dog never had any behavioral issues.
He is now considering legal action against the Commerce City Police Department and has retained the services of attorney Jennifer Edwards of the Animal Law Center in Wheat Ridge.
According to the Examiner, Edwards accused police of "visual discrimination" against Chloe. Commerce City has a city ordinance banning pit bulls in the city, but Edwards questioned whether Chloe had much pit bull DNA. "I don't know if she had any pit bull in her," Edwards said. "If so, it was very minimal. She was at least half Labrador Retriever."
She said another dog, a Labrador named Jack, was also in the garage of the home in the 9600 block of Nucla Street where the shooting happened. Jack ran loose after the shots were fired and Edwards said police did not seem concerned about him running free.
Jennifer Edwards added that the officers should have known how to read the dog's body language. She said, "I don't think that most departments and most officers hate dogs - this is more a fear reaction."
For Gary, he is hoping for justice. "It's not something I want to remember. It's like losing a family member," he said. "I just hope justice prevails and Chloe's name is cleared."
Below is raw video footage of incident. WARNING: Graphic Content may be disturbing to viewers.
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