Owner says police opening gate, despite a Beware of Dog sign, led to dogs death

September 28, 2014

Commerce City (Colorado) Police have come under fire after yet another dog shooting, Fox31 News reported September 24. The owner says police opening a gate, despite a Beware of Dog sign, led to her dogs death.

Officers were investigating a child abuse charge Wednesday, September 24 at around 1:15 p.m. in the 7300 block of East 82nd Avenue when they came upon a gate with a Beware of Dog sign clearly marked. One officer suffered a serious bite wound when a dog belonging to Nicole Hopkins slipped out the gate.

Commerce City Police Chief Troy Smith confirmed the officer suffered a significant bite before firing his weapon at, and killing the family dog. In an interview with ABC7 News Smith stated

“The officer was unable to get the dog to disengage. The preliminary investigation indicates the officers discharged his firearm one time, striking and killing the animal.”

Dog owner Nicole Hopkins has a different version of what took place. In an interview with Fox31 News, Nicole explained how her dog, a 12-year-old Bull Mastiff/Labrador mix named Bugs couldn’t have escaped on his own.

“The dog cannot open that gate. The cop had the gate open.”

Chief Smith says the open gate is just one of the things under investigation, and that vicious dog attacks in Commerce City are on the rise. Statistics show a 28 percent increase in vicious dog calls and a 34 percent increase in dog bites in his jurisdiction. Smith went on to address what is being done, this being the third such incident recently where police shot the family dog.

“We believe that the strategic plan that we have developed to address this has really changed our approach.”

Does this new approach include shoot first and ask questions later?

Nicole says even the other officers with the one who fired the deadly shot that killed Bugs asked that officer why he had to shoot the dog. Both officers are on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Smith says the family has cooperated with the investigation, and no charges have been filed. He also stated that the beware of dog sign should have alerted officers to handle the situation differently. Due to changes in the department, officers are now given training in aggressive dog management.

Instead, we have yet another family dog dead, allegedly at the hands of an officer who opened a gate bearing a clear Beware of Dog sign. We have two officers who were looking for a person who doesn’t even live at that address. If Nicole is correct, we have an officer whom, after making these mistakes, decided to shoot a family dog on its own property who never would have escaped, had it not been for his carelessness.

Chief Smith is all for training officers in non-lethal methods to contain a dog, providing the officer has time to react. It would appear training would be difficult to provide, considering this officer couldn’t read three little words on a big warning sign.

How can they study written training material when they can’t read a sign on a fence containing a dog?

We all know how this one will end. Despite this most likely being an error made by the officers responding to the home, they will be cleared of wrong-doing. Nicole may even be charged with having a dangerous animal, despite having a properly secured fence and a warning sign.

It’s a shame an officer was seriously bitten, but shouldn’t he bear some of the responsibility for ignoring both a secured fence, as well as a sign that practically screamed: “keep out?” This officer was treated and released and recovering at home. Bugs has a family who will never forget an officer ended their dog’s life.

Contact information is listed below, should you wish to express your opinion directly to the department responsible for the death of yet another family dog.

Commerce City Police Department
7887 E 60th Ave
Commerce City, Colorado 80022

Phone (303)289-3629

Rest in Peace, Bugs. It’s unfortunate you had to give your life due to an officers carelessness.



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