An off-duty Redlands Police Department Sergeant fired two shots at a pit bull named Zuse, but hit the front tire and rear bumper of the dog owner's pickup instead. Now a California community is outraged because of the way Smith handled the altercation, the San Bernardino Sun reported August 18.
The shooting took place on Lower Pine Drive in Forest Falls back on August 10. Redland Police Department Sgt. Ricky Smith was walking with his family and their dogs shortly after 3:30 p.m. when Zuse escaped his yard and came running toward them.
Sgt. Smith, who was off duty at the time, drew his 40-caliber Glock and fired two shots at Zuse. The dog's owner, William Wise, suffered damage to the front tire and front bumper of his pickup truck. Luckily Zuse wasn't injured in the in the incident.
Smith used his personal weapon, and not the gun issued by the police department, and later explained he was allowed by law to carry his personal weapon when off duty without the need for a concealed weapons permit.
In a telephone interview with SB Sun, Smith defended his actions saying
“I can’t believe I’m the bad guy here.Everybody came out and they were just hostile to us. Nobody asked us if we were OK. They were just asking why I was shooting on their street. Nobody seemed to care that a pit bull got loose and almost attacked us.”
A group of about 15 Forest Falls residents witnessed the incident, including some children. Witnessed were outraged at the shooting, and believed Smith could have taken other action instead of reaching for his gun. Residents believe he put the those in the close vicinity to the shooting in danger, and are relieved the stray bullets hit a vehicle instead of a child.
William was inside his home when Zuse made his escape. He never heard his dog barking or growling, and was alerted to the problem when he heard the gunshots and Smith yelling obscenities. Smith disputes this, and says Zuse was growling and barking and "going crazy" shortly before slipping under the fence.
Several witnesses reported Smith as being drunk and shooting into a crowd. Sheriff's deputy Paul Franklin, who responded the the call, was asked by witnesses to perform a field sobriety test on Smith, which he failed to do since Franklin displayed no signs of impairment.
Smith explained that he hadn't been drinking, and was only taking a quiet walk with his family before heading to work.
Smith is a 21-year veteran of Redlands Police Department veteran, and a retired Air Force Tech. Sgt.
Zuse has escaped in the past, and William's landlord is aware of the problem with the fence. Now William says he'll fit the fence himself, since his landlord hasn't done so.
Some neighbors are also upset because loose dogs have plagued the area for at least ten years.
Smith made a statement directed to pit bull owners where he claims owners always say of their aggressive pits
"Oh, they’re friendly. They just want to play."
Smith expressed outrage at pit bull owners who refuse to take responsibility for their dogs, but has agreed to pay for damages to the truck. A report is being written up and the shooting investigated. Smith's own police department is also investigating, and animal control will get a report on the incident.
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