A police report filed in the shooting of two dogs inside their north Minneapolis yard by an officer over the weekend says the animals “charged at [the] officer,” an account that appears to differ from the resident’s security video of the encounter.
Police Chief Janeé Harteau did not criticize the actions of the officer who shot the two dogs, but on Monday said the department “will be implementing mandatory training specifically for officers identifying effective tools and tactical strategies with police and dog encounters.”
In a statement, she said the video of the officer shooting the two dogs “was difficult to watch.”
Harteau said her department will help the family with the veterinary bills “to ensure that both dogs are adequately taken care of.”
The officers arrived at the home Saturday night in response to a burglary call. One of the officers entered the backyard and came into contact with Ciroc and Rocko, both Staffordshire terriers.
According to the report made that night by one of the responding officers, Michael Mays:
“While staging at the rear, two large size pitbulls charged at officer. Officer dispatched the two dogs, causing them to run back into the residence.”
‘Video … doesn’t lie’
Jennifer LeMay, the dogs’ owner, bristled at the suggestion that either dog charged at the officer, whom she identified as Mays.
“Video surveillance doesn’t lie,” she said.
On Sunday, she said the first dog that was shot was wagging its tail and “wasn’t even moving, lunging toward him or anything. … My dogs were doing their job on my property.”
Nearly all of the encounter shortly after sunset in a fenced north Minneapolis backyard was captured on the resident’s video surveillance and posted on Facebook a day later. As of Monday evening, the 105-second video has been viewed more than 363,000 times.
The video brought widespread response to a GoFundMe campaign online to cover the many thousands of dollars of medical bills ahead for the dogs. More than 950 donations have come in as of Tuesday morning and pushed the total to roughly $27,000 toward the veterinary bills.
Several donors posted photos of their own pets along with their donations.
“I hope my donation helps, even a little bit. If the surgery is already paid for, buy them good food or a small bed or something they can enjoy,” wrote donor Cris Ramirez. “I’m so sorry for what happened and I can’t imagine what you’re going through. My prayers are with you.”
Body camera video
The Police Department said Sunday evening in a Facebook posting that it is reviewing the resident’s video as well as the officer’s body camera recording. The posting added that any discharge of an officer’s firearm prompts an internal investigation.
The incident occurred about 9:15 p.m. behind the home in the 3800 block of Queen Avenue North, and while LeMay and her family were camping in Wisconsin and a friend was caring for the dogs.
LeMay said her 18- and 13-year-old daughters came home earlier because the elder teen had to report to work early Sunday.
The daughters came home about 8:50 p.m., and one of them accidentally set off the security alarm. LeMay said she notified the security company and had the alarm deactivated within a few minutes.
The two officers soon arrived. Neither knocked on the front door, she said, with one going to the front of the house and Mays scaling a fence in back, she said.
A moment later the video shows the officer in the backyard as he walks forward out of view for a few seconds and then retreats with his gun drawn. The video shows Ciroc trotting toward Mays, stopping briefly, and then walking toward him. That’s when Mays shoots the dog. The animal goes down for a moment and runs away. Mays then shoots Rocko as that dog bounds toward him.
Ciroc was shot in the jaw. Rocko has wounds to one side, face and shoulder. Both are back home. Ciroc is awaiting surgery that could run from $5,000 to $7,000, LeMay said.
Training for officers
The Staffordshire terrier, accepted as one of various pit bull breeds, is described by the American Kennel Club as “a well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful, keenly alive to his surroundings.”
A north Minneapolis nonprofit whose mission is to counter the impression of pit bulls as inherently dangerous said Monday that it will participate in the Police Department’s newly announced effort to improve police response to calls involving dogs.
“We will be here to start a partnership … where officers will go through training on how to approach dog-related incidents and encounters through using other tactics, instead of drawing a weapon,” said Shannon Glenn, executive director of MyPitBullisFamily.org.
Police spokesman Scott Seroka said his department is “going to have conversations with that group, and we’ll certainly talk with any group” about the interactions of officers and dogs.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482