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Video shows interaction Sturgeon police officer had with dog before shooting

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Bodycam footage shows the interaction a Sturgeon police officer had with a 13-pound, blind-and-deaf Shih Tzu before he shot the dog to death.

ABC 17 News requested bodycam footage from the city of Sturgeon for an Officer Woodson on Tuesday morning and received the video file of the encounter on Thursday.

A blind-and-deaf dog was shot and killed by a Sturgeon police officer on Sunday, the city confirmed in a Monday social media post. The city claimed the officer saw the dog “behaving strangely and displaying signs of possible injuries” that was “perceived to be rabid behavior.”

The owner of the dog, Nicholas Hunter, told ABC 17 News earlier this week that the topic of rabies never came up in a conversation he had afterward with the officer who shot and killed the dog. Hunter also stated the dog was updated on its rabies vaccines. Hunter said the officer had allegedly told him that he thought the dog was hurt, and putting it down was the best choice.

Another person who had been in contact with the dog wrote in a complaint to the city -- that was received on Monday morning -- that they had called Boone Count Joint Communications and confirmed the dog was not aggressive.

In the bodycam video, the officer is seen pulling into a gravel driveway in his patrol vehicle. He then goes to the trunk of the vehicle to grab gloves and a catch pole. The officer then walks to a wood line and the dog is seen running in a field at the 2-minute mark of the video. All of the time stamps listed in this article are based on the original, unedited video.

The officer gets near the dog at the 2-minute, 20-second mark. The officer could be heard asking what happened to the dog and then saying “neck’s broken?” The dog runs away from the officer at 2:38 into the video.

The officer takes out the catch pole and tries to lasso the dog at 2:49. The officer is heard saying “I’m not gonna let you bite me, you’re looking all cray,” but fails to pull in the dog. The dog then starts walking away again at 3:05 into the video.

The officer makes several attempts to capture the dog that were unsuccessful. The dog does not try to bite the officer in the video and does not growl at the officer.

At 4:43, the officer is heard saying, “Maybe I’ll get a blanket, just wrap you up.”

The dog then walks back toward the treeline. The officer then fires a shot at 5:26 and fires another one at 5:33.

A woman in a house next to the treeline then comes out to the back porch of the house and says, “We have children here, don’t you think you should warn someone before you fire shots?”

The shadow of the officer is seen waving off the woman after she made that statement.

The officer says “animal dispatch” in his patrol vehicle at 6:47. The officer puts the now-deceased dog in a cooler at 7:51.

A total of three minutes, and six seconds occurs in the video from when the officer first initially gets close to the animal and the first shot being fired.

The City of Sturgeon wrote in a social media post on Thursday that “the City has reviewed the dispatch report and body camera footage regarding the recent dog at large incident. The City believes that the officer acted within his authority based on the information available to him at the time to protect against possible injury to citizens from what appeared to be an injured,  sick, and abandoned dog.”

The city wrote that it will “be sending all officers to Boone County Animal Control for training and education, in hopes that this unfortunate situation does not occur again.”

Hunter says he plans to take legal action against the city.

"After seeing the first statement and the second statement it has increased my emotional distress and frustration with the city," Hunter said after seeing the body cam footage for the first time.

A statement obtain by ABC 17 from the person who contacted Joint Communications, but wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from the city wrote:

"I cannot stress enough this animal was in no way a threat to others! Woodson discharged his weapon MULTIPLE times in a residential area without a threat presenting itself, without warning."

Hunter says he has made multiple attempts to speak with the Mayor.

"I've been trying to make contact with the city and the mayor. I've yet to hear back," Hunter said. "It's frustrating and it makes me kind of lose hope."

As a member of the army, he added that he supports police and all he wanted was an apology and a promise that they would implement better training on how to handle dogs. However, he said that the incident has changed his perception of some police officers.

"It makes me kinda lose hope in not the justice system all around but our justice system here in Sturgeon," Hunter explained.

Hunter says he has received a lot of support from the community but added that a lot of people in town own dogs and some of them are now afraid their dogs will get shot if they get loose.

Article Topic Follows: ABC 17 News Investigates

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Ryan Shiner

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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