31
Jan
08

Pit bull that bit officer is shot, killed

By Stephanie Sanchez / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 01/31/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

El Paso police on Wednesday investigated the scene where a police officer shot and killed a dog that attacked and bit the officer, who was trying to catch a suspect. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)
An El Paso Police Department officer who was bitten and knocked to the ground by a large pit bull shot and killed the dog Wednesday across the street from Mesita Elementary School in Kern Place.

The owner of the dog complained that the undercover police officer who killed the dog had no business in the home’s backyard.

Two undercover officers, who were identified only as police gang unit personnel, on Wednes day afternoon went to a house in the 3500 block of Hixson, where they were investigating graffiti that occurred in the area during the weekend, police said.

Outside the house, the officers saw a person matching the description of a suspect they were seeking, and he ran toward the backyard, police spokesman Javier Sambrano
Dog shot, killed
Should El Paso Police have shot a dog that bit two officers Wednesday, even though it was on private property?
Yes.
No.
I’m not sure.
said.

“Officers gave chase. As that was happening, one of the dogs (in back of the house) began to attack one of the officers,” he said. “An assisting officer pushed that dog away. When he did that, another dog bit that officer on his leg.”

Sambrano said the dog bit the officer a second time and caused him to fall.

“The dog was heading to attack the officer again, at which time he discharged his firearm, killing the dog,” he said.

The officer was taken to Thomason Hospital and was not thought to be in serious condition, Sambrano said.

“They killed our dog, and they had no business going to the backyard,” said David Egure, the owner of the house. “As you could see right here (on the left side of the house), that’s where they tackled
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(his son) and we don’t have any dogs here. Why did they go to the backyard and shoot our dog?”

Egure, who owns three pit bulls, said the officers were chasing his 15-year-old son, David Joseph Morales, and tackled him near the left side of the house. The dog that was shot was 5 years old, Egure said. An adult pit bull can weigh up to 90 pounds.

His son was outside when he saw the officers and started to run, Egure said.

“My son must have gotten scared of the police officers because they were bold. He thought they were gang members,” he said. “In the past, we have been assaulted by gangs, so we are always ready. We’ve been shot at in this house before.”

The incident could have been prevented, Egure said, if the officers had been in uniform and knocked on the front door.

“It is not right. They made a big raid, like if we had drugs. It is not right for them to come and scare off the people and shoot the dogs,” he said. He added that all the dogs were fenced inside the backyard.

Morales was arrested for allegedly evading arrest and was turned over to juvenile authorities. His uncle, Billy Egure, who also lives at that home, was arrested for outstanding traffic warrants.

Any dog, whether a pit bull or other type, will protect its owner and property, said Martha Williams, president and director of Pet Guardian Angel Welfare Inc. The organization rescues dogs and offers them for adoption.

She said that not all pit bulls were vicious, but that their bites could be “real painful.”

“Where was his Taser gun?” she said. “This is happening with great frequency. É When they are shooting a dog like that, bullets can ricochet.”

In 2007, three dogs were shot and killed by El Paso police officers, according to El Paso Times archives. In one incident, a pit bull was shot at but not hit.

Officers should be trained to handle dogs without killing them, Williams said.

Because the gang unit officer discharged his firearm, the department’s shooting review team is investigating, Sambrano said.

Egure said his son might have been a target for the graffiti investigation because his teenage friends are always around their house.

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