No Criminal Charges Against Officer In Dog Shooting

German Shepherd Named Ava Died From Gunshot Wound

The Erie police officer accused of shooting a dog will not face criminal charges, the Boulder County District Attorney's Office has decided.

Officer Jamie Chester shot and killed Ava, a German shepherd, on May 10 in Erie.

Officer Chester was responding to a call about a threatening phone call that day. When he arrived in the neighborhood, two dogs walked toward him, he said.

Chester said as he retreated behind his parked car, one dog crouched down and lunged at him. Chester said he felt threatened. When he shot the dog in the shoulder, Chester said it was within an arm’s-length of him.

The final necropsy report indicated the entry wound was consistent with the officer’s account that the dog lunged toward him before he fired his service weapon, officials said.

Ava's owner told 7NEWS her dog did walk toward the officer, but she wasn't barking or growling. She said that the officer never warned her that he was going to shoot the dog.

Brittany Moore said her three daughters - ages 8,7 and 5 - are still impacted.

"They are distraught. They actually are currently in therapy. I'm in therapy. It's been awful. I've been through a lot of things in my life, but this has been really bad," Moore said. "It was senseless."

She said she is pursuing a civil suit against the officer, despite the DA's conlusion.

"I guess it's nothing surprising that they sided with the police. But it's upsetting. There's many other options that he could have used. And he chose to use deadly force."

"Based on the threat of officer safety, Officer Chester was justified in using deadly physical force, and therefore he did not needlessly kill the dog," said District Attorney Stanley L. Garnett in a letter to the police chief. "Chester’s actions did not constitute criminal conduct and no criminal charges will be filed."

Garnett added the real issue was a lack of direction in state law regarding use of force on animals.

"There isn't any indication either in the courts or in the statutes that if a case like this went to trial that a judge would find that the self-defense and use of force statutes that apply to human being apply to animals. But we assumed that they would so we would give the most animal-friendly analysis we could to what happened here," Garnett said.

"The dog was unlicensed, off leash and not under control of the owner," according to Erie Police Chief John Hall.

Hall said Chester owns three dogs, two of which are German shepherds.

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