Regina police gave an update on Thursday into the investigation of an officer who shot and wounded a dog owned by a civilian.
The investigation will determine if the officer’s actions and use of force were appropriate. In the meantime, he will remain on duty with no changes.
The shooting happened as the canine unit was preparing for a training session in an open field along 14th Avenue, north of the airport on Wednesday.
Police say a man got out of a car with two dogs who started to run around off-leash. As the officer went to tell the man to put the dogs on a leash or move somewhere else.
Acting Deputy Chief Corey Zaharuk said the officer was not initially concerned with the behaviour of the dogs once they were near, though they were not obeying calls by the man to return to their owner.
“The officer began sensing very troubling behaviour from one of the dogs, who appeared to him, to be assuming an aggressive posture and circling him,” said Zaharuk.
As the officer feared an attack where he’d be seriously injured, he fired two shots down at the dog who was in front of the officer’s feet. One bullet struck the dog in the shoulder area, the other hit the ground.
“I don’t doubt for a moment that with her owner and family, the dog is seen as a loving, playful pet but that was not how our experienced canine officer perceived the dog in the moments prior to the incident,” said Zaharuk.
Officers with the canine unit carry Tasers along with their sidearm but the non-lethal tool was not used in this case. Part of the investigation is to try to understand the perceived danger and why the officer chose not to use a Taser, reaching for his gun instead.
“If the officer fears death or grievous bodily harm, a firearm in most of those circumstances would be an appropriate use of force option,” Zaharuk said.
Police have interviewed witnesses including other civilians and said they still have other people to talk to as part of the investigation. Zaharuk could not confirm reports that the dog had a ball in its mouth, wanting to play. He also couldn’t confirm exactly how long the officers kept the dog owner at the scene before he was able to take his pet to the veterinarian.
“It was only a brief period of time before the dog owner was on his way.”
Police said the dog is expected to survive.