An Iowa man whose wife was fatally shot by a police officer in front of him last month now stands to lose his dog as well.
Burlington, Iowa, newspaper, The Hawk Eye, reports police there have scheduled an animal hearing board to convene Feb. 25 to determine if the dog is vicious and decide its fate.
Police believe the dog may have been the catalyst for the apparent accidental shooting on Jan. 6 that left 34-year-old Autumn Steele dead.
The Des Moines Register reported police visited Steele’s home that day in response to a domestic disturbance call. Police found Steele and her husband, Gabriel Steele, outside, in front of their home when they arrived.
Initial reports indicate that as Burlington Police Officer Jesse Hill was working to resolve the conflict between the couple, the family dog, Sammy, jumped on the officer.
A neighbor, Ed Ranck, said it appeared as though the German Shepherd startled the officer who in turn tried to shoot the animal.
Investigators believe Hill fired two shots, one of which struck Autumn Steele in the torso. She was taken to a nearby hospital and later died from the wound.
“It appeared he was shooting at the dog when (the officer) fell to the ground. It’s my belief the woman was shot accidentally,” said another witness quoted by The Free Thought Project.
Hill was later treated for a single dog bite. Animal control workers took the dog from the home.
Burlington Police Maj. Dennis Kramer told The Hawk Eye that the hearing for the dog is in compliance with the law.
“We are following city ordinance concerning dog bites,” he said. “The dog attacked a person (Hill), off its property, on the sidewalk. Therefore, our animal control officer was notified.”
Kramer indicated there had been other reports that the dog had shown aggression to postal carriers and other police officers in the past.
If Sammy is declared a vicious dog by the five-person board he will be euthanized.
A Change.org has been started urging the animal hearing board to release Sammy back to the family.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is still investigating the Jan. 6 shooting. Hill remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation.
Photo Credit: Change.org