Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Police News

April 14, 2012

Officer who shot dog will not face discipline



An Elkhart County police officer who shot and killed a dog will not face disciplinary action, Sheriff Brad Rogers reported Friday.

In a posting on the sheriff’s department Facebook site, Rogers said the officer’s use of force was proper because the dog had attacked him, had the ability to cause serious injury and the officer could not evade the animal.

Michael Daly was the sheriff’s officer involved. The dog was owned by Josh Bender.

The shooting occurred April 7 in the 14000 block of C.R. 36. Daly responded to a hit-and-run crash investigation at a home near Millersburg. As the officer was parking, Rogers said, two dogs approached his vehicle.

According to the sheriff, Daly assessed the situation from his vehicle and determined the dogs were not a threat to him.

“After closing his car door and walking to the front of his vehicle, the officer tried to calm the barking dogs, speaking friendly and calmly to them,” Sheriff Rogers posted on Facebook. “For whatever reason that none of us will know for sure, the dogs did become aggressive. Within a 10-second timeframe, the dogs escalated their barking and fierce growling and then one of the dogs attacked the officer.

“The officer fired his handgun once at the dog, killing the dog,” Rogers continued. “The other dog fled.”

The sheriff said that due to the speed of the escalation and the attack, Daly did not have time to take other action, such as return to his vehicle or determine alternate use of force.

The attack and Daly’s actions were recorded on the in-car audio/video recording, Rogers stated, and the recording “leaves no doubt as to the officer’s actions and the behavior of the dog.”

“Would it have been better for the officer to stay in his vehicle until the owner approached?,” the sheriff wrote. “Hindsight is the wiser.”

Rogers said he’s directed his department’s training division to begin immediate training on how to recognize aggressive behavior in dogs.

“I recognize that this is an emotional issue, as most of you I love dogs, and no one wants to harm an animal if it can be helped,” Rogers posted on Facebook. “The family involved lost a family member that day; a pet that they loved and cared for. I empathize with their loss. It is a tragic situation. I also recognize that the owner’s dog would not usually be aggressive and some of you who knew the family depicted the dog as loving and friendly, which I believe to be accurate from your perspective.”

Efforts by The News to reach Josh Bender Friday were unsuccessful.

Automobile crashes

An Elkhart driver was airlifted after the car he was driving struck a heifer near Wakarusa early Friday.

The crash occurred at 2:04 a.m. on C.R. 38 west of C.R. 9, two miles northeast of the town limits. Elkhart County police said John Schertz, 47, Elkhart, was driving west on C.R. 38 in a 1994 Honda when the car collided with a stray heifer that was in the road. The animal landed on the windshield and sheered the roof back on the car.

Schertz suffered a head injury, lacerations to his face and head, neck, chest and back pain. He was airlifted to Memorial Hospital of South Bend, where he was listed in good condition Friday.

The owner of the heifer was cited for a violation of the Elkhart County Animal Control Ordinance, police reported. The heifer was killed in the crash.

• A woman pushing a shopping cart outside Kroger, 209 Chicago Ave., was hurt when a vehicle collided with the cart.

The mishap occurred shortly before 11 a.m. April 6. A 1995 Chevrolet Corsica driven by Phyllis N. Hutchinson, 91, Goshen, struck a cart pushed by Carol Ebersole, 57, Goshen. The impact pushed the cart into Ebersole’s leg, knocking her to the ground.

Ebersole suffered minor bleeding.

• Two people were injured in a two-vehicle crash Tuesday on U.S. 33 at Bashor Road.

The collision occurred at 4:34 a.m. A 1996 Jeep Cherokee driven by Julie Watkins, 42, South Bend, collided with the rear of a 2007 Chevrolet Impala driven by Casey Boatman, 22, South Bend.

Watkins suffered chest pain as a result of the crash, and Boatman suffered back pain.

• One driver was hurt in a two-vehicle crash Wednesday on Ind. 15 south of River Vista Drive.

The crash occurred at 3:49 p.m. A 2002 Honda sport utility vehicle driven by Sarah Brew, 18, Bristol, collided with a 1997 Dodge van driven by David Simon, 30, Elkhart, which was pulling onto Ind. 15 from a private drive.

Arrests

Local police made the following arrests recently:

• According to Goshen police, officers were called to 321 1/2 N. First St., at 2:20 a.m. Thursday because of a domestic incident. Police arrested Derek Jernigan, 31, 321 1/2 N. First St., on charges of invasion of privacy. He was booked at the county jail.

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