On Saturday, November 24, 2012 at approximately 11:30 a.m., Commerce City Police responded to a 911 call of an unknown aggressive pit bull loose in the 9600 block of Nucla Street.
Neighbors indicated they had not seen the dog before, and police verified through neighbors that the animal did not belong to the homeowner at 9695 Nucla Street.
Officers attempted for 20 minutes to contact the homeowner or a responsible party without success. It was determined the dog needed to be caught and sent to the animal shelter.
When officers approached the dog, the aggressive behavior continued. An attempted use of a Taser was used to subdue the dog; but was unsuccessful.
The dog remained very agitated and continued to be unpredictable. An animal control agent was able to place a “catch pole” around the dog’s neck, but, due to the dog’s size and aggressive behavior, she had not attained control of the dog. For the safety of the community and the officers on scene, the officer fired his weapon multiple times to put down the dog and ensure the safety of everyone.
“Obviously, this kind of force is a last resort for our officers. It truly is a tragedy any time a member of our department has to use their weapon to ensure community safety. Our initial review of this incident indicates that the officers responded appropriately to the 911 call and used the force necessary to protect the public,” said Chief of Police Chuck Saunier.
“I have ordered a full investigationof this incident that is already underway. I am optimistic it will determine all of the facts of this tragic event. The home video is disturbing, however until the investigation is complete, it is inappropriate to speculate on the incident because we don’t have all of the facts,” added Saunier.
The dog was temporarily being housed at this location by the owner’s relative. She was charged with numerous violations, including vicious animal and the pit bull violation.
In 2010, the police department was involved in another shooting involving a vicious dog. That incident also was portrayed poorly by the media, although a jury later determined the officers’ actions were justified. Since that incident, all members of the Commerce City Police Department, including the officers on scene of this incident, attended mandatory training on dog encounters. This training included how to approach dogs and how to read their behavior.
Per department policy, all involved officers remain on active duty, and the police reports will be released at the conclusion of the investigation. The 911 call and dispatch tape are attached as they are not part of Commerce City Police Department’s created reports. We expect more information to be available at the investigation’s conclusion.