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Family Dog Killed By Police Officer
Erie Police Officer Feels Threatened, Shoots German Shepherd
Marshall Zelinger, 7NEWS Content Producer/Presenter

POSTED: 11:01 pm MDT May 11, 2011
UPDATED: 7:55 am MDT May 13, 2011

ERIE, Colo. — A call for help to police ends with a family dog getting shot and killed by the responding officer.

Brittany Landis called Erie Police after she said she got a threatening phone call. She said she was on her porch with her two dogs, a 4-year-old German shepherd and an 11-year-old golden retriever, when Officer Jamie Chester approached through her neighbor’s yard.

“As soon as I saw him, the dogs also saw him and started just trotting over there, not rushing over there, not barking, not growling, just curious,” said Landis.
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“The two made contact, eye contact, and the officer put his hand on his weapon,” said neighbor Andy Feero. “He said something to the dog, motioning her not to move and then he started walking backwards.”

Landis said she called her dog back.

“I said, ‘Ava, nein!’ — our German Shepherd was trained in German,” said Landis.

Nein is German for no.

“She heard me. She turned and looked at me and the police officer shot her,” said Landis. “I started screaming, ‘Oh my God! What did you do? What did you do?’ He came towards me and said, ‘Ma’am, I had to do it. I had to do it.’”

Neighbors Call Shooting ‘Senseless’

“It was a senseless shooting. I didn’t hear any barking noises out of her until she got shot,” said Feero. “I saw the weapon come out and he let her have it — (from) six feet away.”

According to Erie police Lt. Lee Mathis, Chester perceived a threat to his safety and shot the dog to avoid personal injury. Mathis said the officer reported the dog was baring her teeth and had her hair standing up. He told 7NEWS officers have no obligation to get bit by a dog before protecting themselves.

“Before shooting, did the officer say anything?” asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

“Nothing. No warning. No, ‘Get control of your dog.’ Not, ‘You get your dog or I’m going to shoot,’” said Landis. “To me, that’s scary. You have a police officer out on the force that is that quick to draw out his deadly weapon. That’s scary.”

Family Took Dog To CSU Vet For Necropsy

Landis told 7NEWS the dog’s body was taken to Colorado State University for a necropsy. She said she was told Ava was shot through the back.

“I was told it severed her spinal column. And it went through her liver and her lungs; it ended up in abdomen, so it hit a lot of vital organs.”

Mathis told 7NEWS the bullet went through the left shoulder of the dog.

“I want justice for my dog, for my family,” said Landis.

The same officer shot and killed a black Labrador in 2007, after it mauled a 9-year-old boy.