KCBD INVESTIGATES: Was the LPD dog shooting necessary?

Published: Oct. 9, 2012 at 2:21 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 2:03 AM CST
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Dashcam video shows the moment when Officer Clinton Lewis shoots and kills one of two dogs in...
Dashcam video shows the moment when Officer Clinton Lewis shoots and kills one of two dogs in the parking lot of United, 5001 MSF.

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Police released the dash cam video of an officer shooting which killed a dog in the parking lot of United Supermarket, 5001 Marsha Sharp Freeway on September 8, 2012.

LPD Officer Clinton Lewis wrote in the report, "An aggressive pit bull was attacking another dog in the parking lot of United Supermarkets. The dog placed myself and others in danger of serious bodily injury. I fired one round into the dog with my LPD-issued pistol."

KCBD NewsChannel 11 received constant emails and phone calls about the incident. Although the dog's death seemed to be an outrage for many, we investigated police policy to see what the rules and regulations entailed when an officer used deadly force on an animal. Mayor Glen Robertson said he also received numerous complaints about the dog's death.

"As a Mayor, it puts me in a very tough situation. Because city charter is very clear that this goes to the police department, to the police chief, and to internal affairs to do any investigation if there's a process they go through," said Robertson. "From that point, it goes to the City Manager and if it would ever need to get back to the Council, it would come from the City Manager to the Council and then to the Mayor. I really have no authority over police officer or police chief. So really, the only thing I can do in a situation like this, is to express my thoughts to the city manager and let it go from there."

According to LPD Sgt. Jonathan Stewart, Lewis acted in good faith to promote public safety.  Although Animal Control was also called to the scene, police were the first on scene and according to Stewart action needed to be taken.

"I think it's something that goes into it and we do work often hand-in-hand with animal control.  And again, if there is a situation where public safety is in danger, and a police officer quickly responds, then obviously the Lubbock Police Department is going to quickly respond to that."

KCBD NewsChannel 11 made an open records request for a partial copy of the police policies and procedures on deadly force.

It said "officers will attempt all those reasonable means of apprehension and control within their command before resorting to deadly force. However, officers will not unreasonably endanger members of the public or themselves in applying these rules in actual situations."

Another section of the policy said "officers may use deadly force to defend other persons or themselves from what the officer reasonably perceives as an immediate risk of death or serious bodily injury…"  Another section specific to this case said "officers may discharge firearms: to destroy animals threatening public or officer safety, or that are seriously injured."

NewsChannel 11 asked why a second shot wasn't fired, to put the dog out of its misery.

"Well, the intent is never to kill, or shoot to kill, in this situation or any other. But, the intent is to stop the threat," said Stewart.

We received a Facebook post from Karen Medina who claimed to be the owner of both dogs.We tried to contact Medina to find out why both her dogs were out fighting at United in the first place. She has not yet responded.

Mayor Robertson added that drastic budget cuts have resulted in fewer Animal Control Officers to respond. "We've been in austerity mode for 10, 12 years around Lubbock, where we cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, and then we come up with situations like this one," said Robertson.

"And every time you cut, there's going to be some future price you have to pay," Robertson said.

Mayor Robertson told NewsChannel 11 he wants to see additional funding in the areas of Animal Control, Code Enforcement and Health Department Inspectors.

RELATED STORY: Police release video of officer shooting, killing dog

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