Police group: Commerce City cop charged in dog shooting is victim of lynch mob mentality
Reports of an Adams County deputy killing a dog after responding to the wrong address undoubtedly caused a case of déjà vu for locals, since it followed a dog shooting by a Commerce City cop that was captured on video in November; see it below. That officer was subsequently charged with animal cruelty, but a police organization feels the allegation was based more on public pressure than facts and plans a show of force at an upcoming hearing.
As we've reported, the dog in question -- Chloe, a mixed-breed animal initially described by authorities as a pit bull -- was being temporarily kept at a house in Commerce City when she snuck out of the garage. A neighbor, Kenny Collins, called the authorities and recorded law enforcers' actions on a cell-phone camera. The video he shot shows Chloe being tased by a policeman and snared on a catch pole by a community service officer -- the equivalent of animal control in Commerce City. But the policeman, subsequently identified as Officer Robert Price, felt Chloe remained out of control and fired his weapon multiple times, shooting and killing her.
A screen capture from Kenny Collins's video, on view below.
Most viewers of the video didn't see evidence that Chloe was a threat to the public, as the police maintained. Indeed, much of the footage shows her sitting calmly or wandering around the home's garage. As such, community outcry over the shooting was considerable at venues such as the Justice For Chloe Facebook page.
Several weeks later, the Adams County District Attorney's Office filed an animal cruelty charge against Price. But while this move was cheered by many observers, it's being denigrated by the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police. As originally reported by CBS4, the organization has written an open letter that accuses the DA's office of bending to public pressure.
In the letter, seen below in its entirety, the organization asserts that Price was "forced to shoot and kill the animal." Regarding reactions to the clip, the letter argues that "to the untrained eye, and without knowledge of the factual details or the circumstances involved, any use of force by law enforcement is not easy to watch and is often not understood by the general public. This was no different."
Thanks to these misinterpretations, the letter goes on, "the officers' actions were vilified by an uninformed public. As is often the case, there is a 'lynch mob' mentality promulgated by those whose core beliefs cause them to pre-judge an incident to match their pre-determined outcome without having heard all the facts."
With this in mind, the letter suggests that outgoing DA Don Quick, whose office was inundated with complaints prior to filing against Price on December 20, caved in to the masses rather than standing firm for what's right. "We have our opinion as to why the DA charged the officer," the missive states. "In light of the atmosphere surrounding this circus, you can judge why for yourself."
Rather than holding a rally to express their displeasure, however, the group's members are encouraged to show up at Price's arraignment, at 8 a.m. on January 22, for what's deemed "a silent show of support. We are hoping to fill the courtroom and hallways with brother and sister officers."
We've reached out to the Adams County DA's office, now headed by Quick's successor, Dave Young, for comment about the police group's arguments. We'll update when and if we receive a response. In the meantime, look below to see a report featuring footage of Chloe's shooting, followed by the CFOP letter.
Show of Support for Wrongfully Accused Commerce City Officer
On Saturday November 24, 2012 three officers of the Commerce City Police Department responded to a loose vicious dog complaint. During the encounter, Officer Robert Price, a six year veteran of the Commerce City Police Department, was forced to shoot and kill the animal.
The incident was videotaped by a citizen and released to the Denver media. From there the video went viral and was broadcast in the national media, "YouTube" and other internet media forums. To the untrained eye, and without knowledge of the factual details or the circumstances involved, any use of force by law enforcement is not easy to watch and is often not understood by the general public. This was no different.
As a result of this video the officers' actions were vilified by an uninformed public. As is often the case there is a "lynch mob" mentality promulgated by those whose core beliefs cause them to pre-judge an incident to match their pre-determined outcome without having heard all the facts. Video is never the whole story, but for those who seek to place immediate blame, or need an outcome that matches their belief system, it is a convenient tool. Because of administrative restrictions involved in cases like this, the reasons dictating the officers' actions and other issues supporting the use of force have not been made public. The officers' side of this has yet to be heard. In time it will be, but suffice it to say they were acting within the scope of their authority and under department policy & procedure in accordance with city ordinance. They violated no law with their actions. They were simply doing their job.
On November 27th the Commerce City police chief stated that an initial review of the incident indicated the involved officers responded with appropriate force for the situation. We agree. However under public and political pressure the department suspended its administrative review and sent the matter to the Adams' County DA's office for review. We know that District Attorney Don Quick and his office were inundated with outside complaints about the incident from certain interested groups. In this caustic atmosphere his office found itself under the eye of the media on what had fast become a controversial politically sensitive event.
As a result on Thursday, December 20, 2012 District Attorney Don Quick advised the public that Officer Robert Price would be charged with one felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals. This decision received immediate praise by animal rights groups and other biased parties. The Fraternal Order of Police finds the charging of this officer outrageous, and not within the scope of the event. We have our opinion as to why the DA charged the officer. In light of the atmosphere surrounding this circus you can judge why for yourself.
The fact of the matter is that Officer Price now finds himself faced with a felony charge, which if convicted not only could result in a prison sentence, but will cost him his career. Colorado State law forbids anyone who has been convicted of a felony from being certified as a peace officer.
Officer Price is a member of Commerce City FOP Lodge 19, and to a person his brothers & sisters in the Lodge support him and the other two officers involved as does the Colorado State Lodge. It is our opinion these officers did nothing wrong and are unfortunate victims of a sensationalized media event. This matter never should have been referred to the DA's office by the department. The circumstances involved did not warrant that action. The DA's office should have sent it back to the department for administrative review as it did not meet any reasonable standard for a criminal investigation. None of that happened. It is obvious to us that the involved officials felt the media and public focus being brought to bear on their decisions regarding this matter, and as result found it easier to act in the manner they did rather than do the right thing in this case.
Lodge 19 has called for a show of support for Officer Robert Price. They have asked the State FOP to get the word out asking officers from other agencies to join them in displaying support for Officer Robert Price. At 08:00 AM, on January 22, 2013 there will be an arraignment hearing in this case for Officer Price at the Adams County Courthouse, located at 1100 Judicial Center Drive in Brighton. FOP Lodge 19 is asking for all off-duty officers from any agency who can attend this hearing to do so. You are asked to show up in suit and tie. There will be no rally. This will be a silent show of support. We are hoping to fill the courtroom and hallways with brother and sister officers. Please spread the word and try to attend.
More from our News archive: "Officer Robert Price faces animal cruelty felony charges for shooting Chloe the dog."
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