This story was updated May 28, 2017.
As an episode of the Hulu series “Chance” was being filmed on a downtown Los Angeles street the morning of May 26, something horribly dramatic happened off camera. An off-duty LAPD motorcycle officer, who was working as a security guard on the film set, shot and killed a pet dog.
The unidentified cop was working on South Main Street when he got into an argument with Emry Zumreet and was attacked by his “aggressive” Pit Bull — or at least that’s the story from LAPD spokeswoman Jenny Hauser, according to the Los Angeles Times.
LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery concurs with Hauser. “A dog belonging to that suspect became aggressive and attacked our officer, and it was at that time that an officer-involved shooting occurred,” he told CBS Los Angeles. The officer was taken to a hospital for minor injuries.
But Zumreet’s attorney and an apparent eyewitness to the shooting tell quite a different story.
“I live in the building above where this happened, the officer was completely fine,” wrote camjameson in a comment on the L.A. Times story.
“At least 100 people from the surrounding buildings were yelling about the incident, having seen it themselves, and everyone claims the officer was not attacked, but that the dog was just growling,” according to camjameson. “This is some cover up if I’ve ever seen it. Your gun should never be your first option in a threatening situation, there are so many other options, especially against a mid-sized dog and a super scrawny dude in a wife-beater with no visible weapons. Shameful.”
According to Ben Meiselas, Zumreet’s attorney, this is what happened:
As Zumreet drove down South Main Street, the LAPD officer stopped traffic due to the TV shoot. Zumreet got into some kind of argument with the officer, and the officer opened the car door. When Zumreet stepped out of his car, the officer pulled out a handgun. Zumreet’s dog jumped out of the car through the open door, and the officer shot him.
“He executed the dog because it was a Pit Bull,” Meiselas told the Los Angeles Times. He said witnesses have come forward to say the shooting was unnecessary.
Another witness, Nelson Aguilar, told KCAL9 he heard two men yelling and then two gunshots. He recorded the rest of what he saw on his cell phone.
“And I saw the dog, and the dog had been shot, and it was squirming on the floor,” he said. “And I saw the owner, and the owner was yelling, talking about, ‘You killed my dog.'”
Aguilar said the Zumreet was arrested after he kept going into the roped-off area, “hugging his dog.” Meiselas told the Times Zumreet called the LAPD for help before he was arrested. According to KCAL9, police haven’t decided whether any charges will be pressed against him.
Hopefully security cameras in the area recorded what really happened. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.
Coincidentally, the series “Chance” that was filming near the shooting is about a forensic neuropsychiatrist (Hugh Laurie) who’s pulled into “a violent and dangerous world of mistaken identity, police corruption and mental illness,” according to Hulu.
It’s a horrible statistic, but more than 10,000 pet dogs are shot by police officers in this country every year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. There’s even a term for it: “puppycide.”
To prevent this, some police departments are training their officers how to deal with scared or agitated pets in non-lethal ways.
In response to the shocking, viral 2013 video of a Hawthorne, Calif., police officer shooting a Rottweiler named Max as his owner begged him not to, spcaLA began offering the class, “Dog Behavior for Law Enforcement” to all police departments in California.
In 2013, Colorado became the first state to pass a “Dog Protection Act,” which requires similar training for law enforcement officers. Two years later, Texas enacted a law that required the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to establish a statewide comprehensive training program in dog encounters.
These programs are a good start, but as those sad statistics make clear, teaching law enforcement officers how to humanely deal with dogs should be required in every state.
Photo via YouTube