Web Posted: 05/27/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Brian Chasnoff, Staff Writer
San Antonio Express
A San Antonio police officer, amid a confrontation with theft suspects
at a West Side home Friday morning, shot dead a charging dog, but it
wasn't the death of the pit bull that disturbed a bystander who
witnessed the shooting.
According to Alison Reyes, a young boy was standing in a doorway about
two feet from the pit bull when the dog left the porch and the officer
fired — too close for comfort, she said.
"They could have handled it different," Reyes said. "The child could've
A theft suspect also was standing in the doorway in the 100 block of
Continental Avenue when the officer fired the shot, but a police
spokeswoman stressed neither the boy nor the suspect were in the
officer's line of fire.
"In this case, there was no one behind the target," said police
spokeswoman Sandy Gutierrez. "They were at the doorway, off to the
Gutierrez would not release the name of the officer who fired the gun or
any police report detailing the shooting because, she said, the report
was "supplemental" and could not be made public.
A separate report, however, detailed the following:
Around 8:30 a.m., a theft occurred at the Easy Money Loan Services in
the 7000 block of West Military Drive. Three suspects in the theft
eventually were arrested on unrelated city warrants but had not been
charged in the theft Friday.
Police got a license plate number and pursued a car to a home on
Continental Avenue, Gutierrez said.
One of the suspects then walked outside and was arrested.
A second suspect appeared in the doorway, opening the door to release a
beige and white pit bull. The dog began to charge, and the officer aimed
at it and fired, killing the pit bull, Gutierrez said.
That officer was placed on administrative duty pending an investigation
into the shooting, Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez would not specify the angle at which the officer was standing
in relation to the dog or the trajectory of the bullet, but she
reiterated that neither the child nor the suspect was in danger.
"Certainly (officers) take into consideration bystanders and innocent
victims," Gutierrez said, "and in this situation they were not in the
line of fire."
Thomas Aveni, a part-time police officer and co-founder of the
Police Policy Studies Council in Spofford, N.H., said the officer
was justified in firing as long as the bystanders were not "directly
behind or at a very shallow angle" to the officer's target.
As for the slain pit bull, Reyes disputed the claim that the canine
"The dog came out not even barking," she said. "The dog was wagging its
However, Aveni said the shooting was justified.
"Officers are allowed to dispatch vicious animals," he said. "I've had
very small, seemingly innocuous dogs bite me on duty. I like dogs, but
officers know full well how people have been mauled by pit bulls."