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Body cam footage has now been released that negates claims made by a Minneapolis police officer that two dogs were charging toward him leaving him no option but to fire his weapon.
Responding to a false alarm on July 8, Minneapolis police officer Michael Mays entered the LeMay family’s fenced backyard and shot their two dogs. He then filed a report stating that the pit bulls, Ciroc and Rocko, a pair of emotional support dogs for two of the LeMay children, charged at him, leaving him no choice but to shoot.
On the night of the shooting, LeMay’s two daughters, aged 18 and 13, ended a family camping trip early and headed home, arriving at 8:50pm. One of the girls accidentally triggered the home’s security alarm, but cancelled the alarm just a few minutes later at 8:54pm.
At 9:15pm, two Minneapolis Police officers arrived at the LeMay home. Instead of approaching the front door to inquire about the alarm, one officer stood in front of the house while the Officer Mays climbed over a 7-foot tall privacy fence to enter the backyard where he was first approached by Ciroc.
As seen in the home’s surveillance footage, and again in Officer Mays’ body cam footage, Ciroc did not charge the officer, but approached him slowly and with what appears to be friendly curiosity. The dog stopped about 10-feet away from the officer when he was shot in the face.
Moments later, the second dog, Rocko, ran toward the officer and was shot multiple times.
WARNING: The body cam footage is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.
In an investigation following the shooting, the Minneapolis police’s union defended the officer, saying that the dogs were growling as they approached Mays.
“Our Officer attempted to back-pedal and create space between him and the Pit Bulls as well as yelling ‘Get back’ at the dog,”Sherral Schmidt, vice president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said. “He realized turning his back on the Pit Bulls and attempting to jump back over the fence was not a viable option. The first Pit Bull growled at the Officer and slowly continued to advance towards the Officer.”
However, body cam footage does not support or verify the union’s determination as his microphone was not turned on until after shots were fired.
Before the shooting, Minneapolis Police had no training or policies in place for how to handle dog encounters. With about 45% of U.S. homes having a dog, police are about as likely to encounter a dog as they are not to. With that statistic in mind, Minneapolis Police – and every other police department in the country – should have already had training and protocols in place.
In Minneapolis, at least, dog encounter training will now be mandatory. But, that’s not enough, says LeMay’s attorney, Mike Padden.
LeMay is considering filing a lawsuit in federal court against the officer in connection with his filing a false police report.
Both dogs survived the shooting, but are continuing to undergo extensive medical treatment and surgeries as a result.