Read an update to this story.
The Facebook video is disturbing. A uniformed Minneapolis police officer is seen in the fenced backyard of a home in north Minneapolis.
Two dogs come out to see what’s going on. The officer shoots one dog, then the other.
As of Sunday afternoon, both dogs were alive but their owner, Jennifer LeMay, was facing thousands of dollars in bills for vet care and surgery.
Minneapolis police released a statement Sunday saying an investigation is underway and “at this time, there is no further information we can release.”
The incident happened about 9:15 p.m. Saturday in the 3800 block of Queen Avenue N. The episode was recorded on security video cameras in LeMay’s backyard.
On Sunday evening, a Minneapolis police officer visited LeMay’s home to extend condolences and discuss what happened.
LeMay and her four children own the dogs, Ciroc and Rocko. Both are Staffordshire terriers that the family has had since they were puppies. The dogs are physician-prescribed emotional support animals for LeMay’s two sons, who suffer from severe anxiety.
Police spokesman Corey Schmidt sent a one paragraph statement:
“We are aware of the recent incident involving MPD officers responding to an audible residential burglary alarm and while at this call an MPD officer discharged their firearm, striking two dogs belonging to the homeowner. Anytime an officer discharges their firearm in the line of duty there is an investigation. We are in the process of reviewing the video posted online, as well as the officer’s body camera video.”
LeMay told what she knows of the incident from her daughters and from her security camera video:
She and her family were camping in Wisconsin while a friend watched the dogs at LeMay’s home. LeMay’s daughters, ages 18 and 13, decided to come home early because the 18-year-old was supposed to work an early shift at a fast-food restaurant on Sunday morning.
The daughters arrived at the house at 8:50 p.m. Saturday. One of them accidentally triggered the alarm. LeMay said she phoned the security company and the alarm was deactivated at 8:54 p.m.
At 9:15 p.m., two officers arrived at the home. Neither knocked on the front door, Le May said, but one stayed in front while the other apparently scaled a 7-foot privacy fence to get into the backyard.
The video, with no audio, shows an officer standing in the yard. He approaches the house and goes out of camera range. A moment later, he steps back rapidly, his gun drawn.
Ciroc, a white and brown dog, trots toward the officer and stops about 10 feet away. The dog looks distracted but does not appear to be charging the officer. The officer fires, the dog falls and then scrambles to his feet and runs away. At the same time, a black dog runs into camera range. The officer shoots several times and the dog flees.
The officer appears to assess the scene briefly before he leaves the yard by climbing over the fence.
LeMay said her 13-year-old daughter saw the entire incident from her upstairs bedroom.
“He was wagging his tail,” LeMay said of Ciroc. “My dog wasn’t even moving, lunging toward him or anything.
“My dogs were doing their job on my property,” she said. “We have a right to be safe in our yard.”
After the dogs’ shooting, another officer knocked on the front door. The 18-year-old explained that she’d triggered the alarm and that it had been deactivated.
The family didn’t instantly take the dogs to the emergency vet because police told the family that “animal control” would be there in minutes to access the dogs’ medical needs. No one showed up, LeMay said.
When Lt. Derrick Barnes came to the house Sunday evening, he was “as genuine and compassionate as he could be, without overstepping his boundaries,” LeMay said.
Both dogs went to the emergency vet Saturday night. Ciroc was shot in the jaw, Rocko in the side, face and shoulder. So far, LeMay has paid $900 for Ciroc and brought him home; he still needs $5,000 to $7,000 worth of surgery at the University of Minnesota, she said. Rocko came home Sunday night. A GoFundMe page was established to help LeMay pay her vet bills.
Read an update to this story.
Pat Pheifer • 612-673-7252