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While responding to a false alarm, a police officer shot and killed a beloved family dog, claiming the dog was attacking him. Disturbing body cam footage proved otherwise.
The Nye County Sheriff’s Office released disturbing body cam footage on Saturday that clearly showed a chain of events that ultimately led to the wrongful death of a beloved family dog and an investigation into the actions of the deputy responsible.
A body camera worn by Deputy John Tolle began by recording the officer driving to the Pahrump, Nevada home of firefighter, Gary Miller, in response to a house alarm that had been accidentally set off.
By the time Tolle arrived, Miller had already spoken to his alarm company to notify them of the false alarm. Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly denied they’d received a cancellation call, but Pahrump Central Security does have a record of contacting the sheriff’s office, and speaking to a dispatcher named Ashley who said the deputy was in route, but would be notified.
Even before arriving at the home, Deputy Tolle is agitated. He can be heard saying, “oh, you’re an idiot, aren’t you?! I mean, you’re just a new kind of stupid,” to other drivers on the road.
When he reached the Miller home, he opened the front gate, entering the entirely fenced property and approached the front door. Nye County Sheriff’s Deputies have all undergone mandatory training in dog encounters that includes procedures like yelling and rattling fences before entering a property to determine if a dog is present. Tolle did not perform those required procedures.
At the point, barking can be heard in the distance.
“Oh, don’t be mean. Don’t be vicious,” Tolle is heard saying, before the dog, Miller’s beloved pit bull Blu, comes into view.
Just as he knocked on the front door of the home, Blu rounded the corner of the house and began running toward him.
“Oh, don’t do it, doggy,” Tolle is heard saying. “Don’t do it, doggy. Stop it. Stop it.”
Panicked, Tolle, who already had his gun drawn before the dog came into view, fired 4 shots at Blu from a distance of about 10 feet away.
Just seconds later, Miller opens his front door to discover his dog’s been shot.
“He just attacked me!” Tolle lied. “He’s attacking me!”
WARNING: This video may be disturbing to some viewers:
When a second deputy arrived, both officers returned to the street, out of Miller’s earshot, to discuss the incident. Tolle continued to assert that Blu was aggressively charging him when he fired.
As if the excessive use of force and unnecessary death of the dog wasn’t enough, the police officer’s actions following the shooting are absolutely disturbing and vile.
The second officer called in to report the shooting. He can be heard saying, “the pit bull came running out from around the corner, yelling, and screaming, and growling, and all that f—ing pit bull stuff they do.”
Then, the second officer says he’s been out to the property a couple of times before, that he’s kind of an a–hole sometimes. To which Tolle responds, “especially when I shoot his dog.”
A detective arrives at the scene to hear Tolle’s recount, which, at this point, has become more elaborate. Deputy Tolle is informed that he’ll need to file reports and will be assigned a union rep, a standard in all officer-involved shootings, to which he replies, “for a dog?” Then jokes “eh, maybe I’ll get time off now,” laughing.
Then, Tolle says, “this is why I can’t deal with dog lovers. It’s a dog… It is what it is.”
At this point, roughly 15-minutes after Blu was shot, the second officer notices he’s still alive. “It’s wiggling! Maybe it’s not dead,” he says. He heads back toward where Blu is laying, bleeding to death. Tolle, still amused by the entire event, jokes that he’ll hang back at the car.
When an animal control officer leaves the scene with Blu’s body, the second deputy returns to reprimand Deputy Tolle. “Next time you say ‘shots fired’ would you tell us what you’re shooting at so I can drive 60 miles an hour instead of 120 to get here,” again laughing.
Finally, the detective who’d arrived earlier and remained inside his vehicle, joking with Tolle about the shooting and complaining about their jobs, not once interviewing Blu’s owner, taking a look at the scene of the shooting, or confirming that Blu has died, asks if he should go. Tolle suggests he go “collect spent casings, take some photos, I don’t know,” again, while laughing about the incident.
The detective then snaps 4 to 5 photos of the home, from the street, not once entering the large property of going anywhere near where the shooting occurred and returns to his vehicle, chuckling.
Following Deputy Tolle’s statements regarding the shooting, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office released a statement in Tolle’s defense, saying he acted appropriately to an evolving threat.
But, after reviewing the disturbing dash cam footage, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly ordered a complete investigation into the shooting and the manner in which it was handled by all parties involved, including animal control officials who cremated Blu’s remains without Miller’s knowledge or consent.
Naturally, Miller was outraged after seeing the body cam footage that was made public. He wants justice for Blu, his best friend and sidekick for the past 6 years.
We will update this story as the investigation continues.