New body cam footage shows a police officer from the Vernon Township Police Department responding to a call about an “aggressive” dog in a neighborhood on Monday, July 28.
Patrolman Emanuel Rivera shoots the dog after it approaches him and growls.
Police say residents complained about the dog’s aggressive behavior.
Jenn Hearon, the dog’s owner, said she and her husband adopted the dog named Hiro from an organization that saves dogs from kill shelters called the Eleventh Hour Rescue.
Hearon said her dog was friendly but often found a way to escape, so they’d have to retrieve their beloved pet.
“We called him Houdini as a joke because we could never figure out how he escaped,” she told N.J.com.
“You had more of a fear of being licked to death than anything else,” she said, adding that she never heard Hiro growl.
The video starts with officer Rivera talking with the person who called to complain about the aggressive dog.
The man then shows Rivera a picture of the animal.
Rivera speaks with neighbors next door about a “tan dog running around” before Hiro is is spotted in the street nearby.
Rivera begins towards Hiro then asks the neighbors if the dog bites.
No response can be heard in the commotion during the video.
As Rivera continues into the street, video shows Hiro running and taking a defensive posture towards him and barking.
That’s when Rivera pulls his pistol.
The video ends just before Hiro is shot and killed by one bullet.
“Back up!” he yells at the dog.
“We heard a pop and my neighbor was calling me saying my dog was shot,” Hearon said in an interview.
“He is cheerful and happy and joyous, and I let him out to go to the bathroom, and the next thing you know he is dead.”
The United States Department of Justice has laid out guidelines that say lethal force against dogs is usually not necessary.
“The use of a weapon is seldom required in dog-related incidents or encounters.”
“Lethal force is a last resort and rarely necessary. If lethal force is used, an investigation should be conducted, and it should include any other prior shooting incidents that the officer may have had involving dogs,” the guidelines explain.
Hearon and her husband intend on speaking to a lawyer about the incident.