ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – An Adams County woman whose pit bull was shot and wounded by the same Adams County sheriff’s deputy who killed another dog earlier this month claims he was “not sorry” about shooting her dog in the mouth two years ago.
“The thing is, it was like PlayStation, Nintendo, not real to him,” said Nicole Gonzalez of the incident in which her dog Titus was shot. “He shot the dog and was not sorry, it was like a trophy, like he was proud of himself.”
Deputy Wilfred Europe III’s attorney, Donald Sisson, told CBS4 the 2011 shooting in Adams County involved Europe shooting “a vicious pit bull” that constituted an “imminent threat of bodily injury.”
Europe has been in the spotlight since the evening of Jan. 14 when he was one of two deputies who responded on a burglar alarm call but ended up at the wrong address, where they shot and killed Jeff Fisher’s dog Ziggy.
Europe reported he “had no choice” but to shoot and kill Ziggy, as the dog was lunging towards him and was threatening to bite him.
Fisher has disputed that account.
The Adams County Sheriff’s Office says it is investigating the Ziggy shooting.
Gonzalez told CBS4 she was not aware that since Europe shot Titus, he had also killed a man in February 2012 (in what was ruled a justified shooting) and shot and killed Ziggy.
Gonzalez said she was not surprised, though. She said after Europe shot her dog she tried to contact Adams County Sheriff’s Department administrators to tell them “that he is going to hurt someone, he’s not taking his job seriously.” She said she was unable to make contact with anyone to voice her concerns.
According to a sheriff’s department report obtained by CBS4, Europe and other deputies went to Gonzalez’s home July 25, 2011, to assist Adams County Social Services which was checking on the well being of Gonzalez’s children. Europe wrote that when he arrived, a man standing at the front door, who had an active warrant, ran inside the home at 761 Del Norte Street. Deputy Europe said he went inside to look for the man who had fled and Nicole Gonzalez warned him, “watch out for the dogs.” Europe’s account says that as he entered the backyard to look for the man who fled, “four dogs came around the corner … barking and growling at me.”
He said two of the dogs approached him “aggressively. I observed the pit bull had its ears tucked back and was growling as it ran directly at me without stopping. I drew my firearm and and fired a single shot at the pitbull striking it in the face as it approached within five feet of me. I believed the pit bull would’ve bitten me if I didn’t take the course of action I did.”
Europe’s attorney said “The Adams County Sheriff’s Office conducted a thorough and complete investigation and cleared Deputy Europe finding that his shooting was justified.”
“Deputy Europe has no sustained violations for use of force during his career in law enforcement. In fact, Deputy Europe has a history of good performance evaluations and is well respected among his peers,” said attorney Donald Sisson. “Finally, it is noteworthy that Deputy Europe recently received the ‘Life Saving Medal,’ an honor bestowed on him by Sheriff (Doug) Darr for pulling a guy from a fire and saving his life.’
While Titus survived the shooting, Gonzalez says his teeth were shattered and the animal is “traumatized.”
“It was really terrible, there was blood all through the house. If I saw him (Europe) again I’d have a panic attack,” Gonzalez said.
Adams County authorities have now also released radio communications between dispatchers and deputies from the night Ziggy was killed.
Those recordings show that deputies were given the correct address to respond to, 5384 Tennyson Street, but somehow ended up at Fisher’s business address. The sheriff has acknowledged his deputies were at the wrong address when Europe shot and killed Ziggy.
On the dispatch tapes, an operator instructs a deputy that there is an alarm going off at “5384 Tennyson,5-3-8-4 Tennyson, signal came from main premise door on the west side.”
“Okay,” responds the deputy.
Moments later, after Ziggy was shot, an unidentified deputy is back on the radio asking dispatchers for additional units to respond, and a man is heard crying hysterically in the background.
After that, one deputy asks to communicate with another deputy “car to car.”
A minute later one deputy asks another for his cellphone number so they can communicate by phone.
The Adams County Sheriffs Department says Europe has been removed from patrol duty.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com