ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4)– The owner of a dog attacked and killed by a Denver Police K-9 said there wasn’t much time to react during last weekend’s incident.
“I can’t stop crying,” said the dog’s owner Colette Lee.
Gomez weighed just four pounds and had been by Colette’s side for nearly eight years. On Sunday, Colette’s mother was about to take Gomez for a walk when she watched a German Shepard run across the lawn.
“And I thought, ‘Boy, that dog is on a mission’ and then I heard my mother start to scream,” said Lee.
She initially thought her mom was in trouble but soon realized it was Gomez.
Denver Police Officer Bradley Rhodes K-9 trainee dog, Rita, was loose. She was being trained as a bomb-sniffing dog to work at Denver International Airport.
“He tried to pull the dog off of Gomez because Gomez was in his mouth and he had already shaken him, terribly and growling,” said witness Rachel Reinholtzen.
“When I opened the door the dog had Gomez all the way in his mouth. Just Gomez’s head was sticking out,” said Lee.
That’s when Rhodes tried to free the dog by placing all of his weight on the German Shepard.
“Then he had to hit the dog on the head to try to get him to release Gomez,” said Reinholtzen.
Eventually, Gomez was released. But it was too late.
“I picked him up and just put him in my arms and just held him,” said Lee.
Rhodes called Arvada police. Officers cited him with having a dangerous dog and running at large. Rhodes has apologized for the unfortunate incident.
“When we make mistakes we always feel bad and we feel bad for them. But there were a lot of mistakes made,” said Reinholtzen.
Rhodes admits his back gate was open and said he put the dog in a sit command. When he turned to get the leash, the dog took off.
The Denver Police Department is also conducting an internal affairs investigation to determine whether the officer violated the department’s canine policy.