Boise police officer shoots, kills dog

kterhune@idahostatesman.comOctober 21, 2013 

— Boise officers were investigating a theft in the area of North 28th Street and Woodlawn on Sunday when Kita, a 2 1/2-year-old lab and pitbull mix, started barking.

Owner Gabrielle Stropkai said she had let the dog out to use the bathroom as she sat outside her apartment with neighbors. Stropkai said the dog had become more wary of strangers since giving birth to a litter of puppies two weeks ago.

“She barks at people she really doesn’t know,” Stropkai said.

Police say Kita charged toward the officers, snarling and acting aggressively. The officer shot the animal in the back of the head when she was less than three feet away.

But Stropkai contested that version of events.

She said the dog was walking back toward the entrance of Stropkai’s ground-level apartment when it began to bark at the officers, but did not charge or act aggressively toward them.

The officer asked Stropkai and her friends who the dog belonged to. Then, according to Stropkai, he immediately pulled his weapon and fired, killing the dog in front of its owner and her 2-year-old son.

Stropkai and her neighbors tried to staunch the bleeding, but it was already too late. Kita never made it to the vet.

“I ran towards her and grabbed her face, but you could already tell,” Stropkai said.

“I felt her take her last breath, and she was dead.”

Police spokesman Charles McClure said the officer was within his rights to use lethal force to protect himself if he felt the dog was a threat to him.

“As with every citizen, a person has a right to defend themself,” he said.

The pet was running loose in front of the apartment, a violation of the city ordinance that requires dogs to be leashed, he said. Stropkai was not cited.

McClure said there was no indication that the shooting was not justified, and added that independent witnesses to the shooting saw the dog acting aggressively.

But the dog’s owner said Kita had never bit anyone and was not a threat to the officer. Stropkai had the dog since she was 5 weeks old, and she had always displayed an even temperament.

Furthermore, Stropkai said, if Kita had been charging, she would have been shot in the face or chest. Instead, the bullet entered the pet in the back of the head, and exited through her stomach.

An investigation into the shooting is ongoing, McClure said. Investigators plan to conduct a review of the use of force policy, as is typical in this type of incident, he said.

Read more of this story Tuesday in the Idaho Statesman and on this website.

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