A New Jersey police officer who went to the wrong address for a reported burglary and fatally shot a dog there said he did so in self defense, but neighbors who witnessed the shooting tell a different story (video below).
Wyckoff Police were called on April 29 about a possible burglary in Wyckoff, New Jersey, NJ.com reports. But officer Kyle Ferreira misheard the dispatcher and mistakenly went to the wrong address, Police Chief Benjamin Fox said.
Fox said Ferreira knocked on the door and got no answer. The officer then made his way to the backyard and noticed an open window.
Thinking the window could have been a potential point of entry for the reported burglary, Ferreira drew his service revolver, Fox said.
Suddenly, “a large, growling German shepherd lunged out of the open window, bit the officer on his right foot and latched onto his boot,” Fox said. The officer says he then fired his gun four times, striking the dog twice.
Dog owner Igor Vukobratovic, 25, arrived at the heartbreaking scene shortly after the incident. He spoke with NorthJersey.com on April 30 and said he couldn’t believe what happened to his beloved dog, Otto.
“He looked at me, and I couldn’t do anything,” Vukobratovic said. “I was screaming at them, ‘Why would you guys do this?’ I couldn’t believe that they’d just shot my dog.
“I had to pick him up, he was bleeding, and carry him to the (animal control officer’s) truck,” Vukobratovic explained. “The last thing he saw was me. I was expecting to lose him to old age — not to come home and see him shot in my backyard.”
Since the incident, neighbors who say they saw the shooting have come forward and given a different account of what happened.
On April 30, neighbor Chris Scala posted a detailed account on Facebook of what he witnessed, CliffViewPilot.com reported. He wrote:
- 4PM: Igor’s neighbor notices a bent window screen, a broken light, and other signs of a potential intruder. He drives himself to the Wyckoff Police to file a report. Dispatch tells him an officer will arrive within the hour.
- 4:20PM: Officer arrives on the scene and parks in front of Igor’s home. Neighbors who made the report wait at their door watching as the patrol car parks on the street.
- Officer exits the vehicle and proceeds down Igor’s driveway, neighbors are confused and try to signal to the police that they are at the wrong house.
- Officer by passes the front door, the garage, the large windows near the entrance, and lets himself into the back yard, hand on his weapon.
- Otto, being protective of his home, hears the officer and enters the backyard through his doggie door and begins barking.
- Otto approaches the officer and stands his ground a few feet away. Officer draws and fires a shot into his chest. He then approaches the dog at close range and fires a bullet through his back. The neighbors witness everything, while frantically screaming at the officer to get him to stop.
- Officer then calls Animal Control for a muzzle and restraint due to him being 'aggressive.' Igor arrives on the scene, by coincidence, finding multiple patrol cars outside his home….
- Otto lies bleeding in the yard while Animal Control muzzles him and restrains him, taking him to the Oradell Animal Hospital where he eventually succumbs to his injuries and dies.
Scala said Otto “was not even remotely posing a threat or attacking him (the officer) in any way” and that the officer discharged his weapon “in broad daylight at a moving target in a residential neighborhood filled with children, families, and pets.”
The witness added that Otto was a “fantastic, smart, well-behaved dog that never showed an ounce of aggression to anyone.”
Ferreira, who is a three-year veteran of the force, was uninjured. He remains on active duty and it is unknown at this time if any action will be taken against him following Scala’s eyewitness account.
Fox said Ferreira is “extremely distraught” over the situation and called the happenings a “series of small errors.”
“We’re bothered by this,” Fox told NorthJersey.com. “I hate that this happened.”
The Vukobratovics said they weren’t sure if they were going to pursue legal action against the police department. Homeowner Goran Vukobratovic expressed doubt.
“I know nothing will happen to the policeman for negligence,” Goran said. “People are shot and nothing happens, so forget about the dog.”
Igor Vukobratovic said the family got Otto when he was 8 weeks old.
“We picked him out of 30 puppies because he picked us,” Igor said. “I started crying this morning when I realized that he wasn’t there and I couldn’t take him outside, couldn't sleep at all. I just miss him.”
Photo Credit: Vukobratovic family via NJ.com