A woman in Clayton County, Georgia is facing charges after a police officer shot and killed her five-month-old puppy, who witnesses say was not a threat to him. The officer, who killed the dog in the presence of the woman’s children, has a history of aggressive misconduct and was suspended for his behavior once before.
Claudette Terry told WSB-TV Atlanta that she was in the process of moving into a new home in May when two police officers stopped to “check on” a man sitting in her driveway.
“My son opened the door [and] the dog ran out and kind of stood by me where the other officers were. He didn’t bark, growl or anything.”
She told the officers the man was afriend who was helping her move, but as she discussed the issue with them, Officer Water Dennard approached them to join the conversation—and kill her dog.
“He just shot the dog and stood there with no remorse, no regrets in front of her and her kids,” said Aijohli King, a neighbor who witnessed the shooting from her home across the street.
Dennard claimed in his incident report that the dog, named 8-Ball, lunged at him, but another witness account contradicts his version of events.
“He just took a step back and he just shot at the dog,” Brandon Smarr said. “And then he started laughing afterward.”
Dennard added literal insult to injury by firing another bullet into the wounded animal. “The dog was shaking on the ground,” Terry said. “And he walked up to the dog and shot it a second time. He walked closer and shot it a second time.”
The family is devastated by the loss of their dog, who was described as “friendly, according to friends, and well-loved, especially by Terry’s daughter.”
“Puppycide,” or police killings of dogs, is routinely covered in the news. The stories often follow a narrative similar to Terry’s, where an officer shoots a dog, claims it lunged at him, and is absolved of wrongdoing. Witnesses often contradict the officers’ accounts, but only in egregious cases—such as the Texas officer who made kiss noises at a friendly pit bull to lure it over and subsequently shoot it—are officers punished for their sadistic tendencies.
Though the Clayton County incident happened in May, Terry is now facing charges for failing to have her dog on a leash or show rabies paperwork.
The Clayton County police spokesperson for the Office of Professional Standards said it was conducting an internal investigation and could not comment on the case at this time. Dennard’s record shows multiple use of force complaints, including a suspension for tasing an individual in the neck.