A recently released surveillance video shows an NYPD officer shooting a dog in the head while the pooch was wagging its tail on Feb. 13 (video below).
The cop was answering a call of domestic violence in a nearby apartment when a 4-year-old dog named Spike, belonging to Yvonne Rosado, came into the hallway.
“The officer just reacted badly,” Rosado told the New York Daily News. “I was screaming, ‘He’s friendly! He’s friendly!’ but he still did that to my dog.”
“He was like a big Snuffleupagus [on "Sesame Street"], a gentle giant,” Rosado added. “He was a member of the family ... He would wag his tail, letting everyone know he was friendly.”
The 70-pound pit bull was dancing with Rosado moments before being shot.
“He’s right there when the music’s about to start,” Rosado recalled. “I dance around with him and I spin him with one paw.”
However, the dog started barking, Rosado opened her door to see the commotion and Spike got into the hallway.
The cop, who was standing near 16-year-old Serena Santiago, shot Spike in the head from about 3 feet away and left the scene.
“What if he had missed the dog and shot my daughter?” the girl's mother, Irma Sue Santiago, said. “She’s traumatized by the whole thing.”
“Spike died wagging his tail,” Irma Sue added.
An unidentified source identified the cop as Ruben Cuesta, but that has not been confirmed by the NYPD.
Irma Sue and Rosado, who witnessed the shooting, do not think the cop was in danger.
The NYPD said in a statement: “The incident is being reviewed by our Force Investigation Division and the findings will be subject to a firearms discharge review board."
“I heard the cops had to go to the hospital for ringing ears, but my daughter has to go to psychiatric therapy for this,” Irma Sue said.
Rosado has filed a notice of claim for a possible lawsuit, and is planning to file a grievance with New York City's Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Rosado said that the NYPD killed her legless pet cat nearly six years ago while searching another apartment.
NYPD policy says that police can shoot animals “only to defend themselves or others from threat of physical injury, or death," and “as a last resort to stop an animal attack.”
The ASPCA states on its website:
[Police] Policies that require only that an officer 'feel' threatened set a very low threshold for justifying the killing of dogs. In virtually all cases we have examined, internal reviews of dog shootings have ruled them to be justifiable under existing policies, even though several cases have resulted in substantial civil judgments against police departments for wrongful destruction.
...the ASPCA believes that most instances of police shootings of dogs are avoidable. The Force Continuum concept has been helpful in reducing unnecessary injuries to the public and professionals in encounters with potentially dangerous people. Law enforcement agencies are recognizing that similar benefits can be gained by applying this concept to encounters with potentially dangerous animals.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO