Owner of dog shot by Commerce City police says his pet wasn't aggressive

Initial review found officers responded correctly

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - The owner of a dog shot and killed by police in Commerce City says there's no way his pet could have been aggressive.

Gary Branson says Chloe was a "chocolate lab mix" that he adopted four years ago. She helped him get active after undergoing bypass surgery.

The officers were sent to the 9600 block of Nucla Street at about 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 24, after a 911 call about an aggressive pit bull loose in the neighborhood.

Detective Christian Rasmussen said officers tried to find a person responsible for the dog for 20 minutes before deciding the dog needed to be caught and taken to the animal shelter. Branson's cousin was caring for Chloe at the time.

When officers approached the dog, named Chloe, Rasmussen said it continued to be aggressive.

Neighbors watched the whole thing unfold and one recorded a video that went viral online. It shows an animal control officer putting a catchpole around Chloe's neck and an officer shooting her twice with a stun gun. Finally, an officer comes from behind and fires five shots.

"It's not something I want to remember," said Branson. "It's like losing a family member."

Police said Chloe was behaving aggressively, but it's not the dog Branson knew.

"All she ever wanted was attention, the more she got the happier she was," he said.

7NEWS showed the video to dog behavior and aggression expert Vicky Kirkland.

"The dog is trying to get away," she concluded. "There's no threatening postures here from the dog."

While Chloe's face can't be seen in the footage, Kirkland says the dog's body language showed it was afraid.

"If I was showing aggression, I'd be doing like this: my body would be forward and my head would be down and I would be starring," she said.

Branson's attorney, Jennifer Edwards, says the officers should have known how to read the dog's body language.

"I don't think that most departments and most officers hate dogs - this is more a fear reaction," Edwards said.

"I just hope justice prevails and Chloe's name is cleared," Branson said.

The Commerce City police chief said an initial review indicated an officer responded with appropriate force when he repeatedly shot the dog. However, a more complete investigation is underway.