ERIE, Colo. (CBS4) – A family in Erie is suing the police department for emotional damages after an officer shot and killed its dog.

In May 2011 Brittany Moore called for police help after receiving a threatening phone call.

Officer Jamie Chester responded to the home and then wound up shooting and killing the family dog, Ava. At the time he explained to CBS4 why he fired.

“The dog was coming at me and had lunged at me,” he said, “I felt like it was attempting to bite me.”

The Boulder County District Attorney agreed, finding Chester had a reasonable fear he would be seriously injured.

“Their findings are incorrect,” said Moore’s attorney, Jennifer Edwards, with The Animal Law Center. “We have a number of witnesses that say the exact opposite of what those findings say.”

But now the family has released home video and has three witnesses who say Ava did not show any aggressive behavior toward the officer at any time. That’s prompted the lawsuit.

“We gave them a year to do what was right, you know,” Moore said. “To make it right, and they didn’t.”

On the video, taken moments after the shooting, you can hear a man say, “It was the kindest, gentlest … that dog was. Really have no idea what that was all about.”

Moore now has a “beware of dog” sign on her fence. She hopes the lawsuit encourages new training for police officers.

“The main thing here is so this doesn’t happen to somebody else,” Moore said. “To spare a family the tragedy that we’ve gone through.”

The Erie police department has not commented on the shooting since the Boulder DA’s ruling.

The 23 page lawsuit asks for unspecified monetary damages.


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