Shoot First; Write a Ticket Later

[Content Note: Police brutality; guns; animal cruelty.]

The Chicago Police Department is investigating after an officer shot a dog (he survived!) in a north side neighborhood, without provocation. The officer says the dog was "unleashed and running toward him," while family and neighbors report say the miniature bull terrier (not a pit bull—a bull terrier, like beloved '80s beer spokesdog Spuds MacKenzie) was just walking around wagging its tail.

It's funny (not remotely funny) how often CPD's versions of events leading to shootings seem to be at total odds with witness accounts. Just a coincidence, I guess!

The officer shot the dog, named Colonel, around 3 p.m. Saturday while writing a ticket for the owner's van that was blocking the sidewalk in the 800 block of West Buena Avenue, according to police.

A neighbor hanging Christmas lights alerted the dog's owner, Al Phillips, that he was getting a ticket, police said. Phillips and Colonel came out of the house and the dog ran down toward the officer, police said.

"He shot the dog, and then he just quite calmly returned to writing the ticket, like nothing had happened," Phillips told WGN-Channel 9. "One slug hit him in the leg, and the other splintered and went into his abdomen."

The neighbor later told police that the officer yelled something like, "Grab your dog" twice, then fired at the dog.
On the news this morning, Phillips' daughter noted that Phillips, who is in his 70s and hearing impaired, did not hear the officer. She also noted that it all happened so quickly, there wouldn't have been time for him to grab the dog before shots were fired, anyway.
The family took the dog to a veterinarian and he is expected to survive.

Phillips' daughter Morgan said the dog was just wagging his tail.

"I could see if the dog was big and ferocious and ran up to him and was growly and barking and biting," she said. "But when a dog walks out, it's wagging its tail — you pull out a gun and start shooting, in a North Side, quiet neighborhood, we have a bigger problem than a puppy getting shot."
And that's the real rub. Even if the officer felt he had an absolute obligation to stop that dog from getting any closer to him because his own safety was at risk, he has non-lethal options at his disposal. Which surely should be the preferable option in a crowded residential neighborhood. Totally apart from the cruelty of shooting any dog that gets near him, that's a major public safety concern.

After shooting the dog, the officer finished writing the parking ticket. The next day, "two officers went to the house and issued a citation for the dog being unleashed." Yeah.

Meanwhile, Colonel is lucky to be alive. His career as a show dog is, however, over. The family is suing the city and the Chicago Police Department.

image of Colonel the Bull Terrier being cradled in a woman's arms after his surgery
Miniature bull terrier Colonel after being treated for gunshot wounds over the weekend. [WGN-TV]

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