COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - The Commerce City police chief said an initial review indicates an officer responded with appropriate force when he repeatedly shot a dog that died last weekend. However, a more complete investigation is underway.
Neighbors captured the dog shooting on video, which has drawn national attention on the Internet.
The officers were sent to the 9600 block of Nucla Street at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday 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.
When officers approached the dog, named Chloe, Rasmussen said it continued to be aggressive. They tried to get control of the dog by using a Taser, but that didn't work.
Kenny Collins watched the whole thing unfold from his yard as family members shot the video.
"It went so fast," Collins said.
The video shows an animal control officer putting a catchpole around Chloe's neck, but struggling to control her. That is when an officer comes from behind and fires five shots.
"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 Police Chief Chuck Saunier.
"I have ordered a full investigation of this incident that is already underway," Saunier said. "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."
Collins, the neighbor, said, "I can't speak for what he was thinking as a police officer. It's a job I wouldn't want. He has to make decisions we don't want to make."
The dog was temporarily in the care of the owner's relative, Rasmussen said. She was charged with numerous violations, including possessing a vicious animal and violating the city's pit bull ban. The woman had left her home Saturday but didn't realize the dog managed to get out as she drove away from her garage.
Rasmussen said all involved officers remain on active duty and police reports on the incident will be released at the conclusion of the investigation, in keeping with department policy.
The department also noted that after another dog was killed by a Commerce City officer in 2010, all officers underwent mandatory dog encounter training.