Police shot a pit bull in Springfield, Oregon on Aug. 12 – and as the investigation continues, disturbing discrepancies continue to arise. A complaint was filed this week against the police officer who shot Kiki the pit bull.
The complaint was filed by Kiki's owner, Breonna Kerr. The complaint states: "On Aug. 12, 2014, Officer [name]...came to my home in response to a loose dog call. Officer [name] proceeded to shoot my dog Kiki, and then he in addition to three other officers cornered her in my driveway, which I witnessed upon arrival to the scene. This is an excessive force and civil rights violation complaint for Officer [name] shooting my dog Kiki." (Note: Seattle Pets Examiner does know the name of the officer, but it hasn't been publicly released).
On Aug. 20, the Eugene Weekly reported that the shooting is one of many recent police shootings of dogs, including a dog who was shot in his own vehicle in Idaho. Dog shootings by police have become increasingly common across the country, generally involving large dogs and witness statements that are contradictory to the official police reports, stating that the dogs are "aggressive" or "threatening."
In Washington State in 2012, a Newfoundland named Rosie was shot by the Des Moines Police. Her family eventually received a $51,000 settlement.
While some reports stated that Kiki was "fine" and does not need surgery, those who are close to this case assert that this is untrue. The injured dog still needs surgery to remove a bullet that is lodged in her shoulder. KEZI News reported that Kiki was shot on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 12, near the intersection of S. 41st and Camellia St. According to the Springfield police, an officer was responding to calls of an “aggressive” dog and attempted to get the dog to come to him. The officer alleged that the dog made an “aggressive” move towards him in the middle of the street. The officer stated that he pulled his gun and discharged the weapon, shooting Kiki from a distance of only a few feet.
Neighbors who were at the scene have a different recollection of the events. Brenda Brick, who knows Kiki, is still upset by the shooting.
“I was shocked and devastated. I’ve never thought in a million years that that dog would get shot – and in our own front yard,” she stated.
“[When I saw] that Kiki was out, she was going from door to door at her own house, barking and trying to get in. A guy on a bike went by. She barked at him, but she didn’t follow him. She crossed Camellia St., but I was really busy cooking. I was going to put her into the yard as soon as I could. She looked frightened. She was hunched over. She was anxious.
“A police cruiser pulled up. He was asking where the dog was. A couple pointed. I thought, ‘Well, then I don’t have to worry about getting the dog.’ Then my roommate’s son and I heard the gunshots – it was so loud.
“My roommate’s son, Chet, could hear people screaming, ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!’ When I got to the end of my driveway, I saw Kiki limping and bleeding. She looked completely freaked out. She saw me and came toward me – her face said, ‘Help me.’ I got close enough to touch her. If the policeman was so worried about the dog, why did he allow her to come within inches of me?
“There was a bullet wound and no exit wound. I wasn’t afraid of her – not at all. And I’m only five feet tall. When I looked up, the policeman was coming around the corner behind my neighbor’s minivan. He was following her with his gun pulled in front of him as he was running after her.
“I could see the gun – I couldn’t even tell you what the cop looked like. It was a 40 caliber gun. I was standing out there with some teenage girls who were within ten feet of the dog when it was shot.
“I didn’t want to give him a reason to shoot again – children were there. So I backed away from the dog. I wasn’t afraid of her – I was afraid that the policeman would shoot again.
“He ran around the dog with his gun drawn – she just ran to our driveway, ran the length of our duplex, and then ran back to her house. She ran in a square. She wasn’t running all over the neighborhood. Even after she was shot, she only stayed in her own perimeter.
“Soon there were five or six police cars out there and then Breonna pulled up. Someone had called and told them their dog was out.
“After the shooting, the policeman came over with his hands behind his back, looped into his belt, his chest puffed up. He asked, ‘So, do any of you have any questions for me?’ We were all so traumatized still. I was hysterical. Finally, I said, ‘why were you running after her with your gun pulled?’ and he said: ‘She was an injured animal. I didn’t want her to injure anyone else.’ He kept on talking over me and I told him that he was being defensive – he cut me off and said, ‘No I’m not.’
“One of the girls who witnessed the shooting asked for his badge number to file a complaint. He said that he didn’t have a badge number. But I did see his name."
Seattle Pets Examiner called the Springfield Police Department and asked if it’s standard policy to provide badge numbers when citizens request them. A representative from the Springfield PD stated that officers typically do provide their badge number when it’s requested.
Brenda added: “Another neighbor was very angry with the officer – he criticized the cop for running around – ‘Are you a [bleeping] idiot?’ and the cop said, ‘Watch your mouth,’ but he never warned us to get back. If he was so worried about the dog, why did he allow her to get so close to me?
"When Breonna called to make a complaint about the shooting, the sergeant told her that it was a waste of her time. I asked why he shot her – I was told, ‘That’s our policy.’ But I’ve seen them not shoot other dogs before.”
Seattle Pets Examiner also inquired last week about loose dog policies. The PD forwarded the call to a voicemail. Seattle Pets Examiner called back to speak with someone and was informed that someone would call back. As of this writing, no one has returned any phone calls.
It is not standard policy for veterinary offices to release information about an animal to a non-guardian, but Seattle Pets Examiner called Emergency Veterinary Hospital (EVH) nonetheless, as EVH had made statements about Kiki’s condition. According to Kiki’s owner, EVH had not done diagnostic work to base these statements off of. EVH told Seattle Pets Examiner to call the Springfield PD.
Seattle Pets Examiner also wanted to ask Springfield PD where they got the information that Kiki had “reportedly Kiki killed cats” and that they had "reportedly" told the family told the vet to use a muzzle for Kiki. Seattle Pets Examiner is still waiting on a call back from the Springfield PD.
“My roommate has a cat who has to cross the yard where Kiki is,” stated Brenda. “The cat is in Kiki’s line of sight. Kiki never does a thing."
According to No Kill Lane County, Kiki was seen by Cascade Animal Hospital, where X-rays confirmed that a bullet is lodged in Kiki's shoulder. Kiki will need ongoing emergency care for the bullet wound. She may need surgery to remove the bullet in her shoulder, as it may migrate later.
According to Sergeant Richard Lewis, the officer had no other options. Sgt. Lewis asserted that there were reports that a driver used his car to block the dog from someone on the street and told the person to get in.
Sgt. Lewis stated: “The officer wishes he wasn’t put in that position, but he was. That’s unfortunate for the dog.”
Sgt. Russ Boring concurred: “It was chasing people down the street. We had one phone call from a neighbor saying that there was a younger type teen male that had been chased by the dog and had been cornered.”
According to Sgt. Lewis, his evaluation of the incident was “justified” and no disciplinary action will be taken against the officer. Animal advocates, however, disagree.
Kiki's supporters have created a Facebook page to support Kiki and her family. The bullet went through Kiki's temple and lodged in her shoulder. Kiki is still suffering from the injuries incurred from the police shooting and her family still needs help to pay for surgery, which will cost $2000. Save the Pets, a 501(c)(3) rescue organization, has agreed to collect funds for Kiki through their PayPal account. Donations need to be marked "Kiki Medical Fund."
The Kerr family continues to try to raise funds for their dog’s life-saving surgery. To add insult to injury, the police stated that they will eventually provide the investigation information to animal control to see if any citations will be issued to the owner.
“It’s not fair to her,” Breonna stated. “The people say she was trying to get inside because the officer was chasing her and gunned her down. I feel like it wasn’t handled the correct way and it should’ve been done and dealt with differently than it had.”
The police report that they're happy with how the incident unfolded. Sgt. Boring stated: “In fact, the officer did a very good job and several of the citizens commented that the officer did a great job out there and we’re very happy with what happened.”
While Breonna states that Kiki did escape from her yard, she wants justice for her dog due to the excessive use of force. Breonna stated: “That’s a life, no matter if it’s a human being or an animal. That’s a life, and you know it’s not fair for her to sit there and be like that in pain and agony.”
Brenda added: “Kiki looked at me for help. I don’t feel safe in my own house now. It’s not because of the dog or the neighbors. It’s because of the police. When I get a dog, it’s not only as a companion, but as a source of protection.
"Dogs are just that way – they’re very loyal to their family and they will protect you. It’s wrong. It’s wrong to crucify this family and say that this dog is chained up all the time. It’s just wrong."
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