Alabama police officer who shot dog files lawsuit seeking $10,000 from neighbor

December 2, 2014

According to a November 29 report by The Liberty Crier, an Alabama police officer who shot a family dog earlier in November has filed a lawsuit against a neighbor, claiming that she made untrue statements about the shooting.

Tuscaloosa Police Department Officer Mike Azwell had gone to visit his mother at her home around 7:30 a.m. Nov. 3. He was getting off of his motorcycle in her yard when two dogs approached.

Officer Azwell thought one of the dogs, which he described as a Pit bull-Labrador mix, intended to attack his mother. The mother suffers from cerebellar ataxia, a condition that causes problems with balance, gait, extremity and eye movements. As a “fall risk,” she isn’t safe around unattended dogs.

Azwell shot and killed the dog, and the shooting was witnessed by Deborah Bosch, who lives next door in the Eastern Hills subdivision in Tuscaloosa County.

The dog’s owner, Rebecca James, says that her dog Sonic, an 8-yr-old, disabled chocolate lab, has never acted aggressively. In an interview with, Rebecca described Sonic

“She was a sweet dog who liked everyone. That police officer shot an innocent dog four times. He shouldn’t be on the police force, because to me, that is not a stable person.”

Veterinarian Tana James described Sonic as “overweight, eight-years-old, and had hip dysplasia so she couldn’t leap, jump or do a lot of active things.”

A report filed with the Tuscaloosa County District Court November 28 stated Deborah Bosch called the Tuscaloosa Police Department and made statements about the incident that weren’t true.

Officer Azwell and is attorney Mark Morrow are asking for $10,000 from Deborah stating

The “slanderous, libelous and defamatory accusations” have caused the officer “injury to his reputation in the community, embarrassment, humiliation, suffered severe emotional distress, loss of sleep, emotional pain and anguish.”

According to the lawsuit, Deborah contacted the TPD the day of the shooting and made the following statements

According to the lawsuit, Bosch called TPD the day Azwell shot the dog and made several statements to dispatchers, including:

“He told (a family member) he would kill my dog.”
“The dog didn’t attack him, the dog didn’t even growl.”
“He covered up the shooting by calling the City of Tuscaloosa Police instead of the County Sheriff’s Department.”
“That dog was not aggressive, I never heard that dog bark.”
“Why does our tax dollar pay for him to sit up at his Momma’s house for four hours to visit her while he’s at work, to visit her, on the police motorcycle while he’s dressed in uniform, why?”
“He has threatened to shoot my dog.”
“He’s over here at his Momma’s house drinking coffee, eating breakfast I guess, and visiting her. He can’t visit her on his own off-day time.”
“He stays there (mother’s home) for three to four hours.”

Officer Azwell claims the statements were made with malicious intent and he was subjected to internal inquiry by the TPD and has been “falsely accused of a criminal and/or acts of dishonesty which he did not commit.”

The lawsuit requests $10,000 of compensatory and punitive damages in addition to costs of the lawsuit.

The phone number for the Tuscaloosa Police Department is 205-349-2121 for non-emergencies, in case you’d like to contact them. Other government officials can be found on their webpage.

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