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District of Columbia Policeman Guns Down Innocent Homeless Dog, Makes Her Suffer As She Bleeds to Death

Where are the investigative journalists when you need them? Here's the basic story as told by a number of eyewitnesses on the scene of this...

Joy  |  Sep 13th 2006


Policeman Shoots Dog In Park

Precious

Where are the investigative journalists when you need them? Here’s the basic story as told by a number of eyewitnesses on the scene of this horrible tragedy. Both the dog, Precious (the name for a vicious dog if I ever heard one) and his human were homeless folks known in the area for being friendly and harmless. The human did let Precious off-lead to run around and chase squirrels. When the policeman (aka the gunman) approached the human and Precious, Precious wagged her way over to him and for her friendliness was gunned down in broad daylight with a hundred or so witnesses passing by, many of whom have gone online to tell what REALLY happened that dark day in DC.

This story first hit Dogster’s President Isabel’s Animal Abuse Commission today.There are too many posters to give them all credit but many Dogsters have been sending in what theya re finding online. Leave it to Dogsters to find the truth and bark long and hard about it!

Here’s the official story via the Washington Post.

Dog Shot, Killed After Charging Officer, Police Say

By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer

A homeless Texan named Joe often preached about the Lord and hung out in Dupont Circle with his white dog, Precious. People say she was harmless. The same for Joe.

But a U.S. Park Police officer shot and killed Precious yesterday after the unleashed, 6-year-old pit bull charged him shortly before 6 p.m. about 35 feet from the circle’s fountain, police said. Witnesses said the park was filled with people.

“When I . . . saw it, I was shocked,” said Carolyn Stromberg, 27, who was sitting by the fountain with her brother. “I started crying. We hadn’t heard any dogs attacking.”

She said the dog’s owner ran toward the animal, asking: “Why did you shoot my dog? He was just chasing squirrels.”

Stromberg said she didn’t witness the events leading up to the shooting but insisted that when she saw the officer aim his gun, the dog was not moving.

Park Police Lt. Art Jacobsen said an officer patrolling the area had told the owner to put the dog on a leash, as is required by law. The dog then “aggressively ran toward the officer,” who fired a shot, Jacobsen said.

Later, the dog’s owner, who declined to give his last name, lay in front of the dog’s body, which was covered with a blue blanket, until the Humane Society took the dog away.

“She’s gone now, she’s dead, she’s dead,” Joe said, sobbing. He refrained from blaming police, saying, “It’s got to be a misunderstanding.”

Follow this link to see more information.

Here’s more reported in via President Isabel’s Animal Abuse Commission:

It appears there are now reports from two new independent eye witnesses who posted comments in response to an article by the Washington Post that the slain dog was made to suffer for 20-40 minutes at the hands of the DC police. A vet at the scene was forcibly restrained by the DC police and denied attempts to provide medical care/humane euthanasia for the slain dog until it was too late.

Yeah, Joe, I think the first mistake was giving a gun to dog-phobic Barney Fife. Now don’t get me wrong. I am a big supporter of police people who know what they’re doing. Heck, I’ve even been known to go to lunches celebrating courageous and intelligent St. Louis policemen and women. Police people have to make hard judgments every day and sometimes they don’t get it right. They aren’t the problem! But come on, daylight with a dog known to be friendly AND a hundred or so people, any of whom could have been in the line of fire or ricochet from the bullet. But whoever gave this yahoo a gun should be looking for another line of work right now. Obviously she or he has a problem judging human character or ability!

If you think I’m being overly harsh check out the eyewitness comments reported to President Isabel’s Animal Abuse Commission.

The Washington Post carried the following reader comments:

A friend called this morning to tell me about this — she was there when it happened. Even more horrifying than the events related in the article was the fact that the police restrained a veterinarian from treating Precious, leaving her to suffer until she died — fully twenty minutes after she was shot, according to my friend. Leaving aside the motive behind the shooting which the report indicates was dubious, restraining the vet from treating the injured dog and thereby ensuring maximum
suffering is barbarism and should be prosecuted under the Districts animal cruelty laws. Stacey Young, District of Columbia (By styoung | Sep 12,
2006 12:50:24 PM)

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I was there too – the article fails to mention that Park Police forced Precious to suffer for nearly forty minutes before allowing the veterinarians who were waiting nearby to euthanize her. One vet was forcibly restrained by the police. I saw Precious lying on her side, bleeding and heaving. Forty minutes later, they finally let a vet through, but Precious had apparently bled to death already. It was wrong to shoot the dog in the first place, given that she was motionless and had a gentle
disposition. The penalty for violating the leash law is a ticket, not a death sentence. The initial wrongdoing was only compounded by the willful denial of euthanasia. This is absolutely intolerable and the Park Police should update their policies. (By ethaneddy | Sep 12, 2006 1:24:35 PM)

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Unlike most of the people who are commenting on this page, I actually saw this entire incident occur. The dog WAS NOT behaving agressively and WAS NOT charging the officer. I watched the officer pull out his gun, aim and fire at the dog while the dog was 6-8 feet away from him. Officer Assmussen should be fired. (By ewelty | Sep 12, 2006 11:01:37 AM)

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This is absolutely messed up. Ive met Precious many times, and she was completely harmless. I hope the media dont let this drop. By PSUPaulie
| Sep 12, 2006 11:13:20 AM |

Other blogs are talking too.

From Metroblogging DC

This came to us by friend of MBDC Rob Plumot who was walking through DC last night and sent us this:

After heading out of DC’s Best Sushi place around 8 last night, I headed towards Dupont Circle, only to find flashing police lights all over the place. Half of the circle was roped with “DO NOT CROSS – POLICE LINE” tape and at least 6 cruisers parked around and on the circle itself.

Wondering what happened, my compatriots and I talked to a bunch of folks who had seen the police response to the latest “crime emergency.” A peaceful homeless man’s dog had been shot by a cop in the bustling park. It seems that the old pitbull was off it’s leash, hanging around it’s owner when the cop arrived. The cop, later claiming the dog charged him, fired a round into the mutt killing it instantly. Luckily, it seems his fast trigger finger didn’t result in any injuries to the many people wandering around the circle, not that that thought apparently crossed his mind when he decided to draw a gun and shoot a dog. All of the eye-witnesses I spoke with said the dog was calm and not acting aggressively. It looks like the Washington Post reporter got a similar story about the completely needless shooting.

Check out the post in Mental Archipelago:

Via Wonkette, and I’ll agree with their interpretation of events:

The real cause of the murder seems to be this: A power-mad federal cop told Texas Joe to put Precious on a leash, and when the harmless homeless man didnt jump fast enough for the cop, the cop shot Precious dead.

And, it highlights the unwarranted reputation pit bulls have as inherently aggressive, dangerous animals (fyi, they’re not).

From the Democratic Underground:

That was really weird.

The guy (I think his name is Mark; I’ve talked to him a couple of times when he’s been sitting in the circle) had let his dog off the leash for a few minutes to scamper around and chase squirrels. True, this is a violation of DC law. But when the dog started coming up to a cop — not aggressively, as far as I can see, just the way a happy dog will, the cop yelled “back! back!”, drew, and shot the dog.

Now, I’m not a cop, but I am a Marine, and I know what a clear field of fire is, and I know that the cop didn’t have one. DuPont Circle is, after all, a circle, and there were people sitting on the benches in every direction, not to mention the cars directly in his line of fire on Mass Ave. had he missed the dog.

Mark (or whatever his name is) was flipping out because this dog has been his only friend for like 4 years, and he can’t adopt another one now that he’s lost his house. Add to that vignette the smell of cordite giving me an Iraq flashback, and it makes for a pretty shitty way to start an evening.

Any idea what I can do to help this guy get another dog? Or to figure out why the cop shot when it seemed so unnecessary? I tend to give a lot of leeways to cops in terms of what they do to defend themselves, but to be honest from my angle what he did looked really dangerous and pointless.

If you’re wondering what to do, here is what President Isabel’s Animal Abuse Commission is advising — Bark Out!

The Chief of the United States Park Police is Dwight E. Pettiford

The Chief’s Office address is:
1100 Ohio Drive S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20242

The phone # is (202) 619-7350

Remember to be civil. Do not use swear words. But be direct. We want Asmussen off the force and charged with animal abuse and cruelty.

Cross post this story all over the internet including the contact information above.

JUSTICE FOR PRECIOUS!!!