Officer shoots dog that bit man in Champaign

Officer shoots dog that bit man in Champaign

CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign police officer shot and killed a dog that had attacked one man and was coming at the officer Thursday night.

"This dog attacked somebody. He knocked down a grown man and bit him in the leg and the arm," said Deputy Police Chief Joe Gallo. "The victim had to jump a fence to get away. The dog was still barking at him."

The incident happened just before 9 p.m. in the 700 block of North Elm Street.

A woman saw the 20-year-old man, who lived in that neighborhood, being attacked by a dog that Gallo said appeared to be a pit bull, and called police.

The call came in at 8:56 p.m., the officer was there seconds before 9 p.m. and the shots were fired two minutes later, Gallo said.

Gallo said the officer, whose name he did not want to release, talked to the victim as he was leaning against a fence across the street. The dog then charged at the officer.

"He fired his first round of shots and the dog continued advancing and he fired again," Gallo said, adding it took "multiple" shots to stop the dog.

He said the officer likely did not have time to try less lethal means under the circumstances.

"After a dog attacks and is charging, there are only so many options you have. The officer went with the most effective one. If the dog continued to charge after shots were fired, it's doubtful pepper spray would have affected him," Gallo said. "Were there other reasonable options available to the officer at the time? That's the question we have to answer."

Gallo said the dog had a chain around its neck, suggesting that it had been tied up but got loose.

"It appears the dog charged the man hard enough to knock him down. He is a 170-pound grown man. This is not a small dog," said Gallo.

The man who was bitten received treatment at Carle Foundation Hospital for what Gallo described as puncture wounds. The police officer was not physically injured.

The city's animal control officer spoke to the owner, who has not been issued any citations. Gallo said police will continue to review the case before deciding if a citation is warranted.

The incident is the third in seven months involving a Champaign police officer fatally shooting a dog with a duty weapon.

On Nov. 17, 2012, an officer shot and killed a family pet that was being attacked by another vicious dog near the corner of Crescent and John streets. Officer Andre Davis ended up being suspended for a day without pay for firing his gun multiple times in that residential neighborhood. The dog owners are still waiting to hear from the city of Champaign about a potential settlement.

On Feb. 7, an officer whose name has not been released shot and killed a dog in the 1000 block of West William Street after officers believed the dog was advancing on them at the orders of his owner. That case resulted in criminal charges against the dog owner for misdemeanor aggravated assault and felony resisting a peace officer. Those charges remain unresolved.

Gallo said in the West William Street case, an internal review concluded the officer acted according to departmental guidelines and was not disciplined.

In the wake of the November dog shooting, the police department changed its policy to say that a human had to be threatened before an officer could use lethal force on an animal. And in April, Urbana's animal control officer began training for Champaign police officers on how to deal with aggressive animals. Gallo said most of the officers have received that training.

Gallo urged dog owners to make sure their dogs are properly secured.

"Although this was an unfortunate event for all parties involved, I am thankful that this did not involve a child who could have been seriously injured. Pet owners, you have a responsibility to make sure that your animals are properly secured and under control at all times," he said.

Because a gun was fired Thursday night, there will be a review of the officer's actions to make sure he acted in accordance with departmental rules. Since no human was hit by gunfire, there is no requirement that the officer be put on leave, Gallo said.

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vcponsardin wrote on June 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Sadly, some people are irresponsible pet owners.  It's not just irresponsible to restrain a violent dog so poorly that it escapes, it's equally irresponsible to own and train a dog to become a four-legged attack animal.

rsp wrote on June 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm

There's nothing stated here that they trained the dog to attack. The dog could have been in pain or had other health issues. It's possible this was the first time it ever bit anyone. It's irresponsible to attack the owners without having all the facts.

Any dog has the potential to bite which is why so many people take their dogs to a training class. There are many qualified trainers in this area.

chinadoll wrote on June 22, 2013 at 2:06 am

Most likely the shooting of the dog was a training exercise authorized by the Champaign Police Department.  Without regular training the officers may hesitate when given the opportunity to commit extrajudicial executions. 

dd1961 wrote on June 22, 2013 at 7:06 am

What in this story even makes you come to this conclusion?

yates wrote on June 22, 2013 at 7:06 am

Or maybe people who own dangerious dogs like pitbulls should be shot as a training exercise. No stupid people, no dangerious dogs running loose.

Eudaemonic Plague wrote on June 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I live on the corner there.  I'd just returned from a shopping trip at just about 9pm, had taken in one load, and was halfway back to the car when I heard BAM BAM BAM...BAM.  I heard the voice of a woman crying.  I called 911, of course, but when I told the dispatcher where I was calling from, she asked me if I was calling about the shots.  I strolled out to my front yard, saw a policeman nearby, and asked him what sort of critter had been shot (I could see it lying there on the sidewalk) and was told that it was a pit bull.

When I was getting ready for bed, I realized they were still out there, so I grabbed my phone and took a few shots.  Between the glare of the lights, and the fact that I was shooting through a window screen, none of them turned out to be award winning sorts, but I have one of them posted on Flickr.

I could hear snatches of the conversation the police were having with a man, probably the dog's owner.  They seemed to be explaining to him what had happened, and why the dog had to be shot.  The police were there for almost exactly three hours.

Jaloney wrote on June 23, 2013 at 12:06 am

When dog fighting was legal, noone promoted pitbulls as pets. After the government criminalized dog fighting wealthy dog fighters have paid t.v. celebs and waged an expensive public relations campaign to popularize the breed and fuel the overpopulation of pitbulls.. now thanks to all the pawns that drank the dog fighters kool aid, dog fighting flourishes everywhere..Words from a world reknown animal behaviorist and evolutionary biologist that isn't a sell out to the wealthy dog fighters. The bad wiring can't be detected in the pitbulls first six months of life, -- or at any time until the pit bull has been cremated. There is no training that will counteract genetically determined behaviors. I've seen many pit bull puppies terrify adult dogs already at the age of eight weeks. Others have seemed fine until their sixth or seventh month, at which point they suddenly tried to kill a playmate they'd been fine with until then. And so on, including family pit bulls that suddenly killed a child or an adult owner at the age of five or eight years. SEE Semyonova Several of the genes involved in this sudden, pathological aggression have been identified. The differences in brain structure and chemistry that they cause are clear (training doesn't fix deviant brain structures). The mechanism -- why the genes activate when they do -- hasn't been figured out yet. Get a hold of this animal behaviorists book: The 100 Silliest Things People say about Dogs. No excuses are given for pitbulls.