A Florida family is desperate for answers after Ocoee police, later identified as school resource officers, entered their fenced-in yard before shooting and killing their beloved senior dog.
The Brooks family had just sat down to eat lunch when they heard someone entering their fenced-in front yard. The family’s two dogs, Duke and Minnie, ran outside through the dog doors to see who was there, followed closely behind by their owner, Charlie Brooks.
By the time Brooks opened his front door, Duke was dead. Shot in the head by a police officer – who would later be identified as a school resource officer – that entered the family’s fenced-in yard to inquire about a boat anchored at the lake across the street.
Lisa Brooks described the incident on Facebook.
“Four years ago, Charlie and I moved to our new home in Ocoee, with a lakefront lot across the street where we could store our boat on the water. The road our home faces is a busy street, so to protect our dogs, we had the entire yard fenced and gated. Early afternoon this past Monday, an Ocoee police officer came to our home, opened and walked through our front gate, then began walking up our driveway towards our front door. Hearing a noise, our sweet, 11 year-old dog, Duke, ran out of his doggy door to greet his new “friend.” The police officer pulled out his gun and shot him in the head. Even as Charlie was standing in the doorway, the officer fired his weapon, killing our best friend.”
“I didn’t have any time to react,” Charlie Brooks told the Orange Observer. “I couldn’t say, ‘No,’ or, ‘What are you doing’ — it just happened so fast that as I was coming out through the door, the officer had already had his gun drawn and was shooting. It was probably 15 or 20 feet away from the door.”
Duke, a 65-pound Catahoula hound mix, had been a member of the family for 11 years.
Ocoee Police Deputy Chief Steve McCosker said, “How it happened is that we were doing an area check in reference to a vessel that appeared to have been beached or abandoned in his immediate area. The officer had called out from outside the front gate and the owners didn’t answer. And when the officers knocked on the door a small dog and a mid-sized dog had left through the doggie door and ran toward the officer. The officer believed that the dog was going to bite him.”
Police told Brooks that whenever an officer is involved in a shooting, they are placed on administrative leave until an investigation is complete. But, when he called the department the following day to get an incident report, he was told the officer was already back on duty.
The preliminary police report they acquired identified the incident as a “suspicious vehicle” stop. Lisa Brooks said, “The officer had come to our house in the first place to inquire about our boat which was covered, anchored and properly registered on our lakefront. There was no mention of the officer firing his weapon or that he killed our dog. The fact that this preliminary report completely omits the actual crime does not leave us with much hope that the report will be factual or tell the complete truth.”
Two weeks after the incident, the family finally received the official police report, but, they say, important details of the incident are missing or inaccurate. And, the officers named are all listed as school resource officers.
The family have started a petition, Justice for Duke, in hopes that a similar incident will not take the life of another beloved family member.
In the petition, they’re asking for appropriate action to be taken against the officers for reckless discharge of their weapon, for the Ocoee Police Department to implement a Use of Force continuum applying to pet encounters that prioritizes de-escalation, to include mandatory HANDS-ON canine encounter training, be equipped with taser or batons, and exhaust all reasonable means in defusing situations before resorting to lethal force, and to implement a policy requiring officers to intervene if they witness improper use of force by their colleagues, and to report it to their supervisor and internal affairs.
The family are considering hiring an attorney.