As J.D. Tuccille noted last week, the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) recently produced a set of five 10-minute videos aimed at police officers who are curious about how to encounter dogs without killing them. Unfortunately, none of the videos addresses a scenario quite like this one: Police chasing an armed robber run into a fenced backyard, where they come across a Italian Mastiff named Castro and shoot it. "It's like I lost a family member," Castro's owner, Terry Taylor, told WBBM, the CBS affiliate in Chicago. "Very difficult."
The cops were in a hurry, so maybe they didn't have time to notice the "Beware of Dog" sign or to grab something they could have used as a barrier or distraction. We have to assume (don't we?) that they had no pepper spray or Tasers they could have used to ward off Castro without firing bullets into him and that there was no opportunity simply to leave the yard and close the gate. And I'm guessing the cops were not carrying dog treats they could have used to mollify Castro. But here is one measure they could have taken that would have saved the dog's life: Before you go charging into someone's backyard, make sure that's where your suspect is.
It turns out that the robber was actually hiding under the front porch, just a few feet from where the police were standing when they killed Castro. He emerged from his hiding spot a few hours later, startling Taylor's son not only with his sudden appearance but with an unexpected apology. "He came from under the porch," DeMarkus Southern told WBBM. "He had the gun in his hand, he was backing up, talking to me like this, and he is telling me, 'I apologize for the police killing your dog. I seen the whole thing.' He put the gun back on his hip [and] proceeded down the street."
An apology is probably more than Taylor will get from the Chicago Police Department. "I said, 'Why'd you shoot the dog?" said a neighbor, Aaron Thompson, recounting his conversation with one of the officers. "He said, 'I didn't shoot the dog. The assailant shot the dog.'"
[Thanks to Slammer for the tip.]