Greenwood, IN (June 17, 2015) - A Greenwood man says police had no good reason to shoot one of his dogs and tranquilize another.
Greenwood Police responded to a complaint in the 600 block of Woodale Terrace Tuesday afternoon. A woman said two pitt bulls from the home next door were running loose in her yard. When a Greenwood officer arrived at the address, he says the larger of the two dogs ran across the yard to aggressively charge him.
“The pitt bull even, when he got to the officer, had to bear down and rear back and slow down, he was coming at him so quickly,” said Greenwood Police Officer Kortney Burrello.
The officer says he pulled his weapon and shot the dog when it got about two feet from him. It’s believed the bullet hit the dog in the snout and traveled into the dog’s body, causing internal bleeding.
As the wounded dog walked to the back yard near its kennel, the officer called Animal Control to capture the second dog. Animal Control Officers located the second dog under a hedge in the front of the house and shot it with a tranquilizer dart. That dog also ran to the back of the yard before the sedative took effect.
Animal Control officers said they had to use two tranquilizer darts on the dog which had been shot by the police officer to stop it from fighting them. Both dogs were loaded onto an Animal Control transport van.
Greenwood Police say Animal Control Officers eventually euthanized the first dog, which was not expected to survive its gunshot injury.
Michael Ramsey, who owns both dogs, says he wasn’t at the home at the time of the incident. But he says neighbors who witnessed it told him neither of the dogs appeared to be attacking the police officer. He claims the officer was not justified in shooting the dog.
“Those dogs are big babies,” Ramsey said. “They wouldn’t attack nobody.”
Ramsey’s friend, who currently lives with him made the same argument.
“Don’t get me wrong, not all police are bad. I’m for the police,” said Ruth Ward. “But what happened here yesterday was not handled correctly.”
But Ward was also not at home when the incident occurred. And cell phone videos shot by neighbors only captured the aftermath of the scene as Animal Control Officers were loading the dogs onto the van.
Greenwood Police officials said the officer who shot the dog is a 17-year veteran of the department and has never fired on an animal before. Assistant Chief Matthew Fillenwarth said he was sorry to learn of the dog’s death, but the officer who fired did the right thing once he felt his life was in danger.
Another question surrounding the case is how the dogs escaped from their chain link kennel in the back yard. Ward and Ramsey believe their next door neighbors may have cut the fence to let the dogs out. Ward says she has had problems with the neighbors and their dogs in the past. She accuses them of cutting the fence so the dogs would get loose and be impounded.
“The bottom of the door of the kennel was cut,” Ward said. “You can see it, I’ve got multiple pictures, you can go back there and look at it. They’ve been cut and pulled open so the dogs could get out.”
But without any proof of tampering, Greenwood Police say they have no reason to suspect the neighbors of cutting the fence. Burrello said it’s possible the dogs bent and dislodged the chain link door themselves.
Police said the smaller dog was already limping and bleeding from its head when they first arrived at the house. It was being held in the custody of Animal Control.
During a follow up visit to Greenwood Police, Ramsey admitted that his dogs had been impounded several times before in Indianapolis following neighbor complaints about the animals.
Ramsey is facing two citations for animals running at large.