June 19, 2013
Another family dog has been shot while a terminally ill child plays nearby. Once again, police were at the wrong address.
The incident occurred on June 17 in Leander, Texas when Leander Police showed up at the home of James and Renata Simmons. After entering by the gate at the front of the property, Leander Police then knocked on the front door. When there was no answer, police began walking around to the back of the house.
Vinny came running around the side of the house when officers headed toward the back of the property. According to KVUE News, police spokesperson Lt. Derral Partin said the dogs were growling and closing the distance very quickly.
He defended the actions of his officer by saying “We’re trained to fire until the threat is stopped.” Partin also said it’s the policy of their department to use lethal force on any animal they think is attacking.
Officers fired three times, with one of the bullets striking Vinny in the back of his neck.
Police were at the home to serve a warrant on Bradly Neal Simpson, who had an outstanding warrant for an expired vehicle registration. The warrant address listed Cedar Park, not Liberty Hill. The Simmons family has lived in Liberty Hill for the past nine years, and have never heard of Simpson. Police database shows the Simmons address as the last known address for the man they were looking for.
Renata Simmons defended Vinny by saying “The dogs always do the same thing, they’re like ‘hey somebody’s here’ and they go running up to the gate like ‘hey pet me.’ Well, they didn’t get pet this time, they got shot.”
Simmons knows dog behavior since she’s a professional dog trainer for “Find. Love. Train.” There were people coming and going from her property every day, and Vinny has never been the slightest bit aggressive. Vinny would always go up to meet any new person on the property.
What’s most upsetting to Simmons is that her terminally ill six-year-old grandchild was playing just around the corner. What if the child had come running into the path of a bullet? Police claim not to have seen the child. Aren’t police trained to use their puerperal vision? How do you miss seeing a child?
Police are calling this an unfortunate incident, and the officer responsible is still on active duty. Partin said the case is under review and the department is evaluating whether they should make a change in how to handle dogs they believe are attacking.
Roughly forty percent of dogs shot by police are shot on their own property.
Thankfully, Vinny is expected to survive. A non-profit organization called Georgetown Animal Outreach is collecting donations for his veterinary bill. Click here to make a donation.
This is outrageous. If this had been an average citizen who “trespassed” onto the property (which is what these officers did) and shot the dog in the vicinity of a young child, that person would have been charged with animal cruelty and child endangerment. Once again, an officer is protected by the badge.
Lt. Partin stated the department uses deadly force as the first defense instead of a non-lethal method to contain the animal. The Department of Justice report The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters has already made it clear that only insufficiently trained officers use lethal force as a first defense.
Does the Liberty Hill area really want insufficiently trained officers working for them?
Apparently, this police department hasn’t read the Law Enforcement Today article warning police not to shoot family dogs, unless they’re prepared for a lawsuit. Which is very likely to happen in this case, since Vinny was in his own yard behind a closed gate when the shooting occurred.
Readers, what do you think should happen to the officers who responded to this call. It’s not known at this time how much the child saw, but it had to be upsetting to hear three gunshots, then see the family dog bleeding only a few feet away.
Your comments are welcome.
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705 Leander Drive
Leander, Texas 78641
MAIN: 512-528-2800 FAX: 512-528-2801