Police reviewing video of dog shooting incident - FOX 13 News

Police reviewing video of dog shooting incident

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The day after video surfaced of an arrest, during which a St. Petersburg police officer shot and killed a suspect's dog, a Bay area animal law expert weighed in on the incident.

The video was given to Fox 13 News Saturday by two witnesses, Carmen Palmer and Joe Madrid, who said they started recording after the shooting happened.

"The man who was walking the dog fell on his knees and started screaming, 'Tazzy, Tazzy, Tazzy!' Palmer said. "The dog wasn't dead. It was like writhing around on the ground and this man is screaming for his dog."

The incident unfolded Thursday near Williams Park, when police arrested Kenneth McNeil and charged him with trespassing.

"The dog turned around, came back and started snapping at one officer," said St. Pete Police spokesperson Mike Puetz following the confrontation. "I think there is some discussion at this point as to whether or not they may look at a further charges of perhaps aggravated assault where the dog is actually being utilized as a weapon."

But some witnesses, including Palmer and Madrid, said the dog didn't appear to have an aggressive temperament.

"He did nothing that would even seem as if it was dangerous," Palmer said.

Jennifer Dietz, an animal law professor at Stetson University, said if that's the case, police could have reacted differently.

"A reasonable way to handle this situation would have been for Animal Services to come and take the dog away and then to have officers take the perpetrator away, and thereby saving the dog's life," Dietz said, adding there are circumstances in which shooting an animal is acceptable for police. "If a dog is going to hurt a police officer, they do have the right to shoot the dog."

Dietz said McNeil could file a lawsuit, but might face an uphill battle unless video surfaces of the actual shooting.

"Unless there's video tape to say contrary, that the dog was not being aggressive, it's usually the police officer's word against the perpetrator's word," Dietz said.

Puetz told FOX 13 on Sunday that the video is currently being reviewed by the department's internal affairs.

"We won't dismiss the video as not having value, but it doesn't give insight into what led to the officer's shooting and what took place during the shooting itself," Puetz said.

McNeil is currently in the Pinellas County Jail, charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and marijuana possession.

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