- June 16, 2018
OCOEE – The family had just sat down to eat lunch when they heard somebody enter their front yard.
As usual, the family’s two dogs, Minnie and Duke, ran out through the doggie door and into the front yard to investigate the noise.
But unlike times before, only one dog returned.
Charlie Brooks, the dogs’ owner, followed the dogs outside, but as he opened the door, the Ocoee police officer in his front yard already had shot his 11-year-old dog, Duke. Duke was a 65-pound Catahoula hound dog mixed breed.
“I didn’t have any time to react,” Brooks said. “I couldn’t say, ‘No,’ or, ‘What are you doing’ — it just happened so fast that as I was coming out through the door, the officer had already had his gun drawn and was shooting. It was probably 15 or 20 feet away from the door.”
At first, Brooks said, he didn’t fully understand what had just happened. It wasn’t until he saw Duke lying on the ground in a pool of blood that he realized the male officer had fired his gun.
“He wasn’t very apologetic. … He didn’t seem remorseful at all,” Brooks said. “I didn’t comprehend that he actually shot my dog until I saw blood. I thought it was a Taser, and he was just trying to subdue my dog because he was just so nonchalant about it. I didn’t even comprehend until I saw blood pouring out of his head that he actually shot my dog.”
Ocoee Police Deputy Chief Steve McCosker said an investigation into the officer-involved dog shooting is currently underway, but he will not be releasing the officer’s name until the investigation is complete. McCosker added that Ocoee’s police officers receive training in police and dog encounters with a program developed by the Department of Justice.
According to McCosker, the officer who shot Duke has been working with the department for six years and has not been involved in any other cases involving a discharged firearm. The officer, McCosker said, was in the area conducting a boat check.
“How it happened is that we were doing an area check in reference to a vessel that appeared to have been beached or abandoned in his immediate area,” he said. “The officer had called out from outside the front gate and the owners didn’t answer. And when the officers knocked on the door a small dog and a mid-sized dog had left through the doggie door and ran toward the officer. The officer believed that the dog was going to bite him.”
Brooks said when he called the Ocoee Police Department, he asked what was going to happen to the officer and was informed that whenever a firearm is discharged, the officer is put on leave until an investigation occurs. However, when Brooks called back on Tuesday to ask for the report of the incident, he was told that the officer was back at work and would need to call back to receive the report.
“So then I started getting upset,” Brooks said. “At first, I thought that our justice system would take care of it and the officer would be punished or something would happen. So we started to get angry when we learned he was back to work the next day.”
A week has now gone and passed, but Brooks said he has yet to receive the report, leading Brooks and his family to wonder if the department intends to prevent the incident from gaining too much attention.
Brooks said his family currently is considering legal action, but they are doubtful of their chances because of a similar incident that happened in Ocoee in 2012. In that case, he said, another police officer had fatally shot a dog in front of a family with kids present. The family reportedly tried to sue, but the case was dismissed.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]