LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Officers were investigating a body that was found near an east Las Vegas home when a pit bull charged them, coming fast down the fenced-in side yard.
Body camera footage released Wednesday shows officers using a catch pole to try to restrain the dog. But it didn’t work.
The dog’s owners are questioning why, in the end, officers shot and killed their dog in the neighborhood near Sahara Avenue and Nellis Boulevard.
They say their dog, Marley, didn’t deserve to die.
“You guys think that it’s just a dog,” Precilla Velasquez said. “But to us it’s not a dog, he’s our family, he was my baby.”
“He was a good dog,” Sergio Quintero said.
“Great with the kids, never showed any aggression. Nothing, nothing at all.”
Moments before the dog is shot, one of the officers is heard saying, “I’ve never used this before.”
“If they had the right training, they would have known not to be doing that,” Velasquez said. “They could have done anything else and already having his gun out, why do you have your gun out already.”
Metro police say since 2015, all officers go through a yearly two-hour training on how to use catch poles.
It’s unclear if these officers remembered that training.
Officer Steven Hutchason with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Advanced Training says it’s the first tool police should use when dealing with these kinds of situations. But sometimes the poles aren’t enough.
“If the dog is so aggressive and so close and biting people and hurting them, we’re unable to contain that dog with this pole, and using our firearm might be the only other way to stop the dog from doing what it’s doing,” Hutchason said.
Officers do have low-lethal tools such as bean bag shotguns and tasers, but Hutchason could not comment on if those were available in this case.
“Sometimes those tools do not work,” he said.
Marley’s owners are now taking legal action.
“They messed up our family, now nothing’s the same,” Velasquez said.
While the family plans to file a lawsuit against police, Metro says their internal investigation is still ongoing.
The catch pole training is due for an update — which happens every two years — in October. The training often uses real-life scenarios to better prepare officers.
It’s possible that this incident could affect how officers are taught to deal with similar situations.