Local News

Chief: Officer was 'legally justified' in shooting dog

Posted September 23, 2008 3:46 p.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2008 5:19 p.m. EDT

— A Mount Olive police officer was “legally justified” in shooting a 45-pound Labrador retriever, according to a statement Tuesday from Police Chief Ralph Schroeder.

An officer shot 2-year-old Durham on Thursday after it charged at humans three times that afternoon, police said; uniformed officers witness two of those times,  Schroeder said.

Officers arrived after a neighbor called 911 to report the dog was in her yard and barking.

After the dog first charged at Officer D. Sasser, he called for backup. Police have withheld the name of a second officer who arrived.

The officers were trying to ensure the dog had returned to its owner’s property and was not a threat to the public, Schroeder said.

When the dog charged at the officers a second time, Sasser shot it. After seeing the shot was not immediately fatal, he fired a second shot so the “canine would not suffer,” Schroeder said.

“The facts available to the officers at the time of this incident show that their actions were legally justified,” Schroder said.

Following policy, the officers bagged the body and placed it by the city street. Public works was notified to pick it up.

Sasser has been placed on administrative duty while the dog' death is investigated. Schroeder said Sasser has been on the police force for about a year.

Prior to the incident, Schroeder said, neighbors had complained to the residents at Durham's home several times in the past six months.

“This is an unfortunate incident, and the officers of the Mount Olive Police Department are saddened that this animal had to be put down,” Schroeder said.

Colby Mangum, who owned 2-year-old Durham, said she has collected written statements from neighbors saying Durham was not vicious.

“He never showed any signs that he would be aggressive toward somebody or bite somebody. That just wasn't his personality at all. He just always wanted to play all the time,” Mangum said.

However, neighbor Bobbie Jean Dixon says this wasn't the first time police were called about Durham. She said Durham had chased her family before.

"He was a vicious dog, (and) frightened us and our children,” she said.

In a statement, Schroeder said officers had previously answered numerous calls in the area for the Lab and a Rottweiler.

Mangum questioned why animal control officers were not called first to pick up the animal, instead of the police.

As a result of this incident, Schroeder said changes are being made for dealing with animal complaints.