LCPD explains death of dog during wellness check, body-camera video released

Las Cruces News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Las Cruces Police Department released more information regarding the death of a large-breed dog as officers responded to a welfare check.

Police said it happened on Monday afternoon, June 28 on Willow Street.

The Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority, the 911 call center for Las Cruces, and most of Doña Ana County received a call from a man who requested a welfare check on a relative. According to investigators, the man said his relative may have had suicidal ideations.

Police said the man informed the call-taker that he owns several big dogs and that he would “corral” them before officers responded to the welfare check.

Two LCPD officers were informed about the dogs being confined and were dispatched to the location. Video recorded on the officer’s body-worn camera shows the officers entering a gate into the man’s yard. A large-breed dog exited the home and charged at the officers. Video shows the officer retreat a short distance before one of the officers fired three rounds at the dog.

Investigators reviews the 911 call and confirmed the dog’s owner requested a welfare check on a potentially suicidal relative. They also confirmed the caller did not request that police call him before their arrival.

Police said investigators interviewed several neighbors about the incident, however found no other eyewitnesses other than the two LCPD officers.

Investigators learned the property the officers responded to is divide into three separate yards, and responded to the caller’s yard since that was the address he provided to central dispatch. The subject of the welfare check resides at the same address but next door, police determined.

“It’s very unfortunate when an incident such as this, involving someone’s pet, occurs,” said Chief Miguel Dominguez with the Las Cruces Police Department. “Our officers face many dangerous obstacles during the course of their duty day, and we expect them to stay vigilant and safe. Our community depends on them.

“Our beloved canine companions provide a level of security by alerting owners of potential dangers or intruders,” Dominguez said. “This incident is unfortunate for all involved and especially for the owner of the deceased dog. We ask that all pet owners do their part to keep their 4-legged friends safe by taking the necessary precautions when first responders are summoned to their home.”

The Las Cruces Police Department shared these tips for pet owners who request a response from police, fire, EMTs or any other first responders:

  • Humanely kennel or temporarily restrain your pet – particularly dogs that can be aggressive or assertive toward strangers – before first responders arrive on scene.
  • If possible, keep pets temporarily confined to a separate yard, room or living quarters while first responders are on scene.
  • Ensure that pets cannot escape their yard or quarters.
  • Ensure that pets always have an adequate supply of fresh drinking water and shade in their permanent and temporary quarters.
  • Have a plan in place, beforehand, on who can care for your pets in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as a sudden absence, medical emergency, hospitalization, etc.
  • Make sure the person responsible for taking care of your pet during an unforeseen absence has vital information such as feeding schedules, medications and veterinarian contact information.
  • If you live alone with pets, leave caretaker contact information in a visible location within the home so first responders or Animal Control can reach them if you become incapacitated or otherwise have to leave pets unattended.
  • Keep pets up to date on vaccinations.
  • Ensure that pets are chipped or wearing a collar that clearly identifies ownership and contact information.

The Las Cruces Police Department released a short, 7-second video clip taken from the officer’s body-worn camera that shows the moment of engagement. As a matter of courtesy and respect for all dog owners, the video is cut prior to the first shot that was fired.

Investigators also determined a photo that appears to show LCPD officers laughing, a photo taken by a bystander several minutes after the incident and later circulated widely on social media, did not depict officers laughing at the death of the dog. The officers were simply reacting to a misunderstanding from a supervisor who was not yet on scene, police said.

No charges are expected to be filed in this incident.

Police shared the officer who discharged his duty-issue firearm has four years of experience in law enforcement and has been with the Las Cruces Police Department since November 2020. He is expected to return to his regular duties later this week.

The subject of the initial welfare call, the relative of the man who called 91, showed no threat to cause harm to himself or others and refused all offers of assistance and transportation for medical assistance, police said.

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