BRIGHTON — Were it not for a cellphone video taken by a 12-year-old boy, Commerce City police Officer Robert Price "would have gotten away with" shooting a dog, prosecutors said Monday during opening arguments in his trial for felony animal cruelty.
But Price, 36, had no choice but to shoot and kill 3-year-old Chloe when he responded to a potentially uncontrolled dog, defense attorneys will argue.
If Price is convicted of felony aggravated cruelty to animals, his law enforcement career will be over because he would no longer be eligible for state police officer certification.
The shooting occurred just after noon Nov. 24, when a large, 3-year old mixed-breed dog named Chloe was reported wandering in a Commerce City neighborhood. The dog was being cared for by her owner's relatives and had escaped the garage. Neighbors called police because they didn't recognize the dog.
Price was one of two cover officers assisting animal control officer Arica Bores. The dog was sitting in the driveway where she was staying. But because police did not know where Chloe lived and were unable to locate the residents of the home, they decided to capture the dog.
After the dog was on a catchpole and had been Tased twice, police said she was still out of control. That is when Price shot the dog.
Bores, who was first to respond to the call, testified Monday that the dog was aggressive from the moment she arrived.
"The dog was barking, growling and the hair on its back was standing," Bores testified Monday.
Because she was alone at first, Bores said she didn't even get out of her truck, choosing instead to yell "bad dog" and "go home" at the dog.
That is when Bores followed the dog to the home where it had been staying and where the incident unfolded.
Bores also testified the dog lunged at Price just before he used his Taser.
The incident was captured on camera and attracted national attention from animal rights groups.
Commerce City police turned over the investigation of the case to the Adams County district attorney. The police department also asked for an independent review by the Douglas County sheriff of the incident and the department's practices and policies regarding animal incidents.