This is a horrible story. Last week, a Des Moines, WA police officer shot and killed Rosie, a black Newfoundland owned by Deirdre and Charles White. My description of the killing is based on stories from several news organizations and blogs as well as the police report filed by the officer who killed Rosie.
On November 7, the Whites left Rosie at home while they went out, and she somehow escaped from their yard. Someone called the police and reported that a large dog was wandering around the neighborhood (Rosie weighed about 120 pounds). The caller did not say Rosie was acting aggressively. The caller was concerned that a car would hit Rosie because some kids were chasing her around.
Des Moines police dispatched three officers to the scene. Officer Graddon took 2 pictures of Rosie and sent them to the off duty Animal Control Officer to see if she knew the dog. She didn’t.
The officers then tried to catch Rosie. First they used a catchpole (a pole with a noose on the end), but that didn’t work. They then tased Rosie twice, but that didn’t work either. At that point, Rosie did what any normal dog would do after being chased and electrocuted by strangers – she ran away and hid in some bushes.
The bushes were in the yard of Lora Perry. The yard is fenced, but the gate was open when Rosie ran in. Ms. Perry noticed Rosie in the yard and closed the gate because she thought Rosie might belong to someone who was looking for her.
The police arrived about 20 minutes later and asked Ms. Perry if she had seen a large black dog running around. She told the police Rosie was hiding in the bushes in her yard. Rosie did not move when the officers entered the yard. Here’s what happened next according to the police report filed by Office Graddon – “I was approximately 10-15 yards from the dog’s location. I felt my safety, and the safety of the public was in jeopardy because of this dog’s vicious behaviors and determined lethal force was necessary.”
Here is how Officer Graddon described in his report why he thought Rosie was “vicious”.
• “The dog was barking at us, repeatedly, in a deep, non-stop bark.”
• “As officers continued to attempt to approach the dog with the catchpole, the dog would come towards them, barking and showing its teeth.”
• “On two separate occasions, the dog charged at us quickly, and retreated after several shouts of ‘Bad Dog Go Home’.”
Anyone with a minimal understanding of dogs would know Rosie was not vicious. She was SCARED. She was in unfamiliar territory, and the three men who hurt her (with the taser) and tried to put a rope around her neck were chasing her. And really, does anyone expect a dog to obey the command “Bad Dog Go Home” from strangers chasing it? That’s ridiculous.
According to the website Yes Biscuit!, here’s what Officer Graddon did next to the “vicious” dog hiding in Lora Perry’s bushes: “At this point, the officers all agreed that the dog was a threat to public safety and to them personally so one of the officers put a bullet in her. She fell to the ground, her eyes rolled back in her head and her breathing was labored.
Apparently still deeming the dog to be a public threat, the officer put a second bullet in her. At that point the dog began to yelp. Apparently the dog was still a threat to public safety so he shot her a 3rd time. After that shot she struggled to sit up, trying to move away. Apparently the officer felt she was still a threat and so put a 4th bullet in her which killed her. Then he poked her with a stick to make sure she was dead.”
Since Rosie was trapped in the gated yard and not acting aggressively, why didn’t the officers just call Animal Control instead of shooting her? And why did the Officer Graddon need to shoot Rosie 4 times? She was incapacitated after the first shot. What was the point of shooting her 3 more times?
In case you aren’t familiar with Newfoundlands, here is how Yes Biscuit! describes them: “Newfies, in case you didn’t know, are the dogs so reliably good tempered they are used to rescue drowning victims – people who flail and scream and have a tendency to choke their rescuers. They are often called “gentle giants”Ã‚Â due to their kind disposition and large size.”
Here is an interview with Lora Petty, the woman who owned the yard where Rosie was killed. In it she says,”The dog wasn’t aggressive at all. She was scared.”
In another story about the killing, Ms. Petty said, “It was quick, they already had their mind set on what they were going to do.”She also said that after the incident one police officer came into her house giggling about shooting the dog. When asked her opinion about the incident, Ms. Perry said, “I know without a doubt in my mind this is not what they should have done.”
This was an execution. An execution of a family dog who was scared and confused. An execution of a dog that was a threat to no one. An execution by an officer who found it necessary to shoot a scared, trapped dog 4 times.
This incident is not over. The Des Moines police are going to conduct an investigation to determine whether the shooting was “within department policy”. My opinion is that they should take Officer Graddon’s gun and badge and fire him because his judgment on whether or not to use lethal force is suspect.
Rest in Peace, Rosie