Local News

Roanoke Rapids Lawman Under Fire for Shooting Dog

Posted January 9, 2007

A local college student said a police officer overreacted when he shot the student's 14-month-old dog multiple times, killing him.

Brandon Cooke said he’s furious about what happened to his boxer, Tito, while he was home on winter break from Appalachian State University.

“They shot my dog six times and killed my dog,” Cooke said.

Speaking to WRAL by phone from his dorm room, Cooke said his brother let Tito out on Jan. 4 and forgot to bring him back inside. Shortly afterward, a neighbor called Roanoke Rapids police to complain that the dog was chasing him.

A police officer and an animal control officer went to the Cooke home. They said the dog charged toward them.

“The only choice he felt to prevent this dog from attacking the animal control officer was to discharge his weapon,” said Roanoke Rapids Police Chief Greg Lawson. A Roanoke Rapids town ordinance says it is illegal to let a dog roam without a leash.

Cooke told WRAL that he disagrees with Lawson’s assessment.

“He could have fired a shot at the ground, fired a shot in the air, some other type of measure (instead of) using the excessive force of firing six rounds at my dog,” he said

Lawson said that the lawman wouldn’t have shot Tito unless he had no other options.

“It bothers us,” he said. “We don't want to have to take an animal’s life.”

Police officials said this wasn't their first experience with Cooke's dog. Lawson said his officers responded to at least two earlier complaints about Tito acting aggressively or charging at people walking in Cooke’s neighborhood.

Cooke, who had raised Tito since he was a puppy, said authorities never warned him about any past complaints.

“I want to see these procedures fairly enforced,” he said. “I want the officer who did this to be reprimanded.”

However, Lawson told WRAL that he doesn’t believe any punishment is in order for the officer.

“The officer, in our mindset, was justified in that he felt the dog was going to attack,” Lawson said.

Cooke said he'll fight for more answers in honor of his best friend.

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • kelliemunn1968 Jan 17, 2007

    I'm not understanding this at all. Is animal control not trained for this type of situation. That puppy did not have to die. I, myself, have had to come home from work to put my dog back in the yard. But, puppies are like children, they are amazed with everything and anything. They love the challenge of doing things they shouldn't. That doesn't make them dangerous it makes them curious. That poor puppy had already been mased. He was scared!! I think it should have been handled better than that. Who's puppy will be next?

  • kim7865 Jan 12, 2007

    I cannot see any reason it took SIX shots ! After the animal being wounded once was enough for it to no longer be a danger...That is just plain animal cruelty. All of us who have animals have more than likely had them get out of a fence, our homes atleast once so I think throwing stones at the Cooke family is pretty heartless. I have always stood behind the RRPD as well but not on this issue, I cannot see any reason that this animal needed to be shot so many times. The officer definently over-reacted, not to mention shooting 6 shots in a public neighborhood was uncalled for. This wasn't a serial killer, it was a 14 month old boxer.

  • do69295 Jan 12, 2007

    This is Danielle, daughter of C.O. I would simply like to set some things straight. First of all, the dog never belonged to my father and was certainly never given away to my boyfriend because Tito "mauled" my neighbor. When my boyfriend, Brandon Cooke was at training over the summer or away for the weekend, Tito stayed at my house, but he NEVER harmed anyone. Secondly, I do not appreciate people preteneding that they know me or my family well enough to publicly annouce your "through the grapevine" news that isn't true.

  • robinlancaster Jan 12, 2007

    This officer did what was best at the current time in the situation he was in, the previous owner of the dog which was not or has not been mentioned (C.O.) gave the dog to his daughter's boyfriend (Cooke) due to it having a vicious side......it mauled a person in his neighborhood. Tell the entire side of the story and quit trying to make the RRPD look like a bunch of criminals. I believe and back the RRPD in this 100%. Take care of your animals and you will not have this problem again.

  • cutiepie0914 Jan 10, 2007

    this story made me cry, I am a proud and protective dog owner. how could a police officer see a puppy and fire six shots into it? it seems like a cowardly act. It is so sad that the animal control officer could not take charge of the situation in a better way. please vitit the website, it is a heartbreaking story and hopefully will prevent this tragedy from happening again.

  • kstor33 Jan 10, 2007

    I encourage everyone to visit Tito's Memorial website, the link under his picture. This is a very moving story!

  • builder276 Jan 10, 2007

    boingc, that would be too easy.

  • boingc Jan 10, 2007

    How about not letting your dog roam loose?

  • WhatEver Jan 10, 2007

    They need to teach officers how to shoot. What happend to just injuring the animal or one shot one kill. The officer's punishment should be more time at the range. If a dog was charging me I would shoot it too. You can tell the difference in a dog charging and a dog running to you to play. This will teach the owners responsibility, hopefully.

  • Lefty Jan 10, 2007

    I am a dog owner and I too love my dogs, but as a dog owner, I have the RESPONSIBILITY to be in control of my dogs at all times. I also have the RESPONSIBILITY for anything my dogs do-be it turn over trash cans or menace/chase someone if they get out. If this dog was running loose and it threatened anyone in anyway, the dog owner has no right to criticize the authorities and should be cited and prosecuted for allowing his/her dog to be at large in the first place.