ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. - A Commerce City police officer pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge of aggravated cruelty to animals in the shooting death of a dog last year.
Chloe was a pit bull mix who got loose from a dog sitter on Nov. 24. Police responded after a 911 caller reported an aggressive pit bull loose in the neighborhood.
Officers said they spent 20 minutes trying to find a person responsible for the dog before deciding the dog needed to be caught and taken to the animal shelter. When officers approached Chloe inside an open garage, they said she continued to be aggressive.
Neighbors watched the encounter and one recorded a video that went viral online. It showed an animal control officer putting a catchpole around Chloe's neck and an officer shooting her twice with a stun gun in the driveway. Finally, an officer came from behind and fired five shots.
Chloe died. Hundreds of residents protested.
“The dog was not aggressive like the police report says,” said resident Lorena Rose. “I mean that is something anyone can see.”
Commerce City police said the shooting was justified, but stated they would open an investigation into the matter after the video became public.
Then-Adams County District Attorney Don Quick announced that after interviewing witnesses, reviewing the videotape and the 911 tapes, his office decided to charge Officer Robert Price with a class 6 felony.
According to the charge, Price knew he would kill the animal but it wasn't necessary.
Commerce City Police put Price on paid administrative leave.
If convicted of the class 6 felony, Price could face 18 months to three years in prison.
Chloe's owner, Gary Branson, said Chloe was not aggressive. He said Chloe was a therapy dog who helped him get active after he underwent bypass surgery. He said Chloe craved attention, and the more attention she received, the happier she was.
Chloe was being watched by Branson's cousin at the time because Branson was out of town.
Commerce City police went through training on how to handle dangerous dog situations after another dog was killed by a Commerce City officer in 2010.