A Vallejo family whose dog was shot and killed by a police officer Wednesday is demanding an apology from the city.
Police, meanwhile, have expressed regret over the incident, but have stopped short of taking responsibility for the death of "Belle," the family's 11-year-old Labrador mix. An official review is pending, department officials said Thursday.
The incident occurred about 12:10 p.m. Wednesday at 47 Kentucky St. Vallejo Police Officer Chase Calhoun was following up on an identity theft report filed by homeowner Erika Gregory, Lt. Ken Weaver said.
Gregory, who was home at the time, apparently didn't know the officer was coming, her husband Loren Mollner said Thursday.
"If she did know she would have kept the dogs inside," Mollner said.
Weaver said Calhoun checked for dogs before entering the fenced yard. After seeing none, the officer entered through the gate and walked about 15 feet toward the porch. Then, suddenly, two medium-sized dogs came charging around the house from the backyard, Weaver said.
"They were lunging and snarling," Weaver said. "He tried to back up and get out of the yard, but both dogs closed the distance on the officer. In defense, he fired two rounds, killing the dog closest to him." Calhoun then retreated out of the yard and called for backup, Weaver said.
When Gregory emerged from the house, she was shocked, Mollner said. "The officer was standing on the other side of the fence saying,
'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I was scared.' "
The other dog, "Flicka," a 14-year-old Australian shepherd mix, was not injured. A third family dog, "Holly," a Labrador puppy, was inside.
Mollner said he's baffled by the officer's use of deadly force. He said the family's dogs sometimes get excited and bark and snarl when strangers come in the yard, but he said he's not aware of them ever attacking anyone.
"He shouldn't have been afraid for his life," said Mollner, who wasn't home at the time. "He could have just kicked or shoved the dog or turned and left the yard." Mollner said the family's children, ages 5 and 7, were shocked to learn "Belle" had been killed after they came home from school. He said the family may explore legal options, but he mostly wants a formal apology from the officer and the police department.
"The kids were in shock" he said. "I've got counseling scheduled for (Friday). The police department needs to do something, not just circle the wagons." Vallejo animal control officer David Sidie said there are no reports on record of aggressive dogs at the family's home. One report, however, had been filed for barking, he said.