The Walton County Sheriff’s Office is releasing the video of a deputy defending himself from an attacking Pit Bull, shooting and killing the dog as it charged him at the end of the complainant’s driveway. The video, which was recorded by the deputy's video cam, worn by the deputy at the time of the incident has been reviewed by the Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs. It clearly shows the deputy defending himself from an aggressive animal and exonerates the officer from any wrongdoing.
This is an unfortunate incident and we regret the failure of the dog’s owner to keep his animal secured on his property -- a failure, which directly led to the dog’s aggressive behavior off property and the dog's death. It is also unfortunate that in an incident like this, passions run high and facts are often distorted. This particular incident has gone viral on Facebook and a great deal of misinformation and outright falsehoods have been spread. Accordingly, we feel it is important to set the record straight with the following summary of the facts of the case:
- The WCSO deputy responded to 77 East Mack Bayou Road on Monday, March 11th, after a caller stated that a gray and white pit bull had run up to her vehicle barking and acting in an aggressive manner. The caller was fearful that if she opened the door, the dog would bite her or one of her two children in the car with her. The dog diverted his attention to another female who was walking by the residence. The caller witnessed the pit bull chasing the female walker down the road and heard her screaming.
- While the deputy was on scene collecting information, he overheard barking and walked to the end of the driveway at 77 East Mack Bayou Road and saw the gray and white pit bull. The animal immediately charged the deputy in an aggressive manner and lunged towards him at which point the deputy fired one shot in self-defense, which killed the animal immediately.
- The fact that the dog charged the deputy is confirmed not only by the deputy's video cam but also in a sworn statement of the neighbor who originally reported the dog holding her and her two children at bay in their vehicle.
- Walton County has a leash law and does not permit dogs to roam freely. The pit bull was off-leash, off-property and not under control or supervision at the time of the incident.
- The dog attacked a child in August 2013. The child was treated at Sacred Heart Hospital. Walton County Animal Control handled this case and followed the procedures they had in place at the time.
- In a second recent case confirmed by Walton County Department of Health, the same dog attacked and injured another dog (a Basset Hound.) The Department of Health is handling this case and is following the procedures they currently have in place for these types of incidents.
- The picture of the deceased dog that was posted multiple times on Facebook by the dog’s owner depicts the dead animal in his backyard and not where the dog attacked the deputy. The picture was taken after the owner had moved the dog back to his own property. Again, when the deputy encountered the dog, the deputy was standing at the end of the complainant’s driveway.
- The dog’s owner has made multiple misleading statements to include that the deputy told him that the deputy never felt threatened by the dog and that he had shot the dog because he had a certain aggressive “look.” These statements are completely false as corroborated by the deputy’s video cam, his formal report and witness’ sworn statement.
In summary, the deputy positioned himself between an aggressive charging animal and the neighbors next door. He did what was expected of him to serve and protect our community and in doing so placed himself in harm’s way. The facts exonerate the deputy and clear him of any wrongdoing.