Robert Westfall claims a Phenix City police officer shot and killed his dog in his yard Wednesday evening. However, the Phenix City Police Department say the dog made an aggressive move at the officer.
Witnesses say the dog died about 10 minutes after being shot.
Robert Westfall claims a Phenix City police officer shot his dog in his yard. He says the dog barked at the officer and the officer pulled out his gun and shot the dog in the head.
PHENIX CITY, Ala. -
A Phenix City man claims a police officer shot and killed his dog in his yard Wednesday evening simply because the dog barked.
"Just sitting back enjoying, next thing I know my dog's dead," says Robert Westfall.
However, the Phenix City Police Department says the dog made an aggressive move at the officer. Assistant Police Chief Robert Casteel says his officer was helping U.S. Marshals look for an escapee from Georgia. He says an informant told them the suspect would be at the Dillingham Street house. When they got there, Casteel says there were some people sitting in the back, including Westfall. U.S. Marshals approached them while he says his officer went to check on a shed that music was coming from. Casteel says U.S. Marshals asked Westfall to restrain his dog.
"Mr. Westfall was asked to take control of his dog and declined, and when the officer walked around from behind the car the dog made an aggressive movement toward him, baring his teeth and the officer fired one shot," says Casteel.
Westfall tells a different story. He says his dog barked at the marshals and officer when they first arrived, but then calmed down once Westfall told the dog to be quiet. He tells News 3 the officer went into his shed to look around, and when he came out the dog barked twice. Westfall says the officer then pulled out his gun and shot the dog in the head from about 10-15 feet away.
"At first I thought it was a taser gun or something and then I looked at my dog and my dog's brains were hanging out. My dog's sitting there, he's panting- he lasted about 10 minutes before he died," says Westfall.
"Mr. Westfall may have been under that impression that the dog would be fine," said Casteel. "But police officers get different reactions from dogs from other people because dogs can sense an apprehension whenever they arrive on the scene, and some dogs that won’t bite anybody else will bite a police officer or people in uniform because they sense that apprehension."
Westfall said his dog, a boxer, did not attack the officer and has never been an aggressive dog.
“My dog lives here, this is my dog's house. Somebody comes on my property; yeah my dog's going to bark at you. He has never bit anybody, and I don't think he would unless you hit him or kick him," says Westfall.
However, authorities say in this case the dog was aggressive and lunged at the officer.
"You may believe your dog won't bite anyone, but no dog ever bit anyone until the first time- and then you know he'll bite someone," says Casteel.
Police say they have concluded their investigation and determined the officer acted appropriately and didn't violate any department policies. We're told the suspect the officers were searching for was not at the house. Police say he was already gone by the time they got there.