WEST COVINA (CBSLA.com) — West Covina police say two barking dogs were out of control and a threat to children when officers used non-lethal force against them, but witnesses say otherwise.
James Clark says he plans to file a formal complaint against two police officers who were captured on video using a bean-bag gun and a fire extinguisher on his two barking dogs.
Clark says he wasn’t home when one of his Labrador retrievers, Max, got out of his yard and was reported to be chasing children at a nearby school. When officers arrived, a neighbor captured one of them shooting Max with a bean bag on video.
“My heart broke. My heart still breaks every time I hear him whimper,” Clark said. “You know, it’s like my son here falling and getting hurt,” Clark said.
Police say the video only tells half of the story.
“The officers acted very appropriately. They kept that dog from hurting them,” West Covina police Lt. Ken Plunkett said.
Because the camera is so shaky, only the audio of the bean-bag shot going off can be heard, he said. But the viewer does not see the moments leading up to it.
“At that point, that’s when the dog became aggressive and charged at him,” Plunkett said.
But witnesses say the dogs were not being as aggressive as police claim.
“He was barking but not like all dramatic,” witness Anna Estrada said. “ ‘Ruff, ruff.’ Like a dog would bark. It was a normal bark. Nothing like all dramatic. I think the cop was being more dramatic, calling more attention on himself.”
After Max was shot with the bean bag, police say the officers tried to get him back in the yard, where his sister Chloe was barking behind the fence. The video also shows one of the officers using a fire extinguisher on Chloe.
Watching the video, Clark points out where the officers using the fire extinguisher.
“He sprays her. And now the officers, they can’t breathe themselves,” he said.
“The nozzle wasn’t pointed at the dog and directly shot him in the face,” Plunkett said. “From the video, you can see that the fire extinguisher was shot off in the direction of the back yard and you can see the smoke going up, which probably scared the dog enough to move it back.”