By David Foster,
TRENTON — Oweeta Derry received a call from a neighbor telling her that the family’s Cane Corso was outside of her gate in the backyard chasing a cat.
What happened next shocked her.
“When I got there, a cop said they shot her,” Derry said Wednesday afternoon, a day after Poodie was killed.
“They shot her once in the chest because a police officer said she jumped at him,” Derry said of the 1-year-old dog.
“But why would you then shoot her again twice again in the back?” she questioned. “What was the purpose of that? You had already hit her in the chest.”
A New Jersey State Police trooper and a member of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office were executing an arrest warrant at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in an alleyway on the first block of West End Avenue near Derry’s home when Poodie appeared, according NJSP Capt. Stephen Jones.
“This very large dog ran out from behind from a backyard area where there was a fence that wasn’t secured,” Jones said Wednesday. “It ran out of the yard of an abandoned property and charged at the trooper and officer. They both discharged rounds striking the dog and the dog ran away.”
The officers later found the dog dead in the rear parking lot of Cadwalader Elementary School.
“It’s very sad when this type of thing has to happen,” Jones said. “It unfortunately comes down to protecting life and limb there when you’re dealing with a large aggressive animal.”
But Derry said Poodie was anything but aggressive.
“She’s a big baby,” said Derry, who just tied the knot last Monday. “Of course she’s a big dog, but she was a really sweet, humble-type dog. She was very friendly and playful.”
Derry’s husband, Dwayne, said cops came onto the scene with their guns drawn.
“Why are they going in the back with their guns drawn from the beginning?” he questioned. “What is your purpose of going in the back of someone’s house with your gun drawn?”
Dwayne Derry said they could have ordered Poodie to stop.
“She likes to play,” he said. “When she sees people, she jumps up wanting to play because she’s a playful dog, but shooting her three times was unnecessary.”
The Derrys suggested cops could have pepper-strayed Poodie or shot in the air.
“They claimed she came at him, but even if that’s the case, he could have shot in the air or shot her in the leg,” Oweeda Derry said. “Why shoot her in her chest and shoot her twice times in the back?”
Describing proper procedure, Jones explained when a dog is charging, they often move fast.
“If a situation is occurring and shots are fired within a second, it’s not a matter of knowing that you hit a dog and that’s the end of it,” he said. “You got to stop the threat.”
Jones ruled out other possible uses of force against the animal. The captain said neither officer was carrying a Taser, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
“That’s generally not too effective on a charging animal,” Jones saidPepper spray is clearly not effective on most dogs.”
In the end, Jones said situations like this are a matter of officer safety.
“If they’re there legally serving a warrant on the premises and somebody has a dog that is not controlled, it might be a situation where it’s just simply a matter of officer safety,” he said.
As of Wednesday night, the Derrys said they were still awaiting a call back from the state trooper on the scene to obtain a police report