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“Officer Gilkerson has a tremendous love for animals,” Chief Whitehead told toledoblade.com. “At no point in our careers as officers do we hope to pull a firearm and have to shoot anyone or anything. I hope people take into consideration that this is unfortunate for everybody involved, but it was a decision that officer had to make within a split second.” Yes, well . . .

In April, 2013, Officer Gilkerson and his then-new K-9 partner, Raider, greeted members of the public. In response to a question, he told the crowd, “I have been afraid of dogs my whole life that I don’t know. I’m comfortable with dogs I do know.”

So where does that leave us, considering that this dog-fearing K-9 officer shot Moses the chocolate labrador as it approached the spot where he was conducting a traffic stop? Let’s rewind for the official account of the incident in question.

Officer Steve Gilkerson stopped a vehicle in front of Lockport Transportation at 875 E. Main St. for speeding at about 11:30 a.m. Police said a loose chocolate Labrador retriever ran directly at the officer, who was backing away, and the dog did not stop or change course when yelled at twice.

“The officer, in fear for his safety and the safety of the two subjects who had exited their car, fired one round from his department-issued weapon, striking the dog thereby ending the threat,” police Chief Roy Whitehead said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

The Lab, named Moses, was struck in the right foreleg.

The occupants of the car stopped by Officer Gilkerson have a different perspective.

Robin Cook of Clyde was driving the vehicle that had been pulled over, and she consented to a search at the request of Officer Gilkerson. She and her boyfriend exited the car, leaving her 2-year-old daughter inside.

She said Moses walked up to the scene with his tail wagging, sniffing the ground and her car tire. She said the officer pulled his weapon and pointed it at Moses, then yelled. She said the dog looked up only after being yelled at.

The officer “just shot and didn’t give the dog a chance to do anything,” Ms. Cook said, estimating it was 6 or 7 seconds from the time the officer pulled his gun to the time he fired. “I was in shock.”

Ms. Cook said Officer Gilkerson went back to his cruiser for about a minute, then returned and told the couple he would not search the vehicle.

“He told us to leave,” she said, saying they stayed awhile because she was too emotional to drive.

Her daughter also witnessed the event, and was talking about the dog being shot, bleeding, and needing to see a doctor.

“She talked about it all day [Monday],” Ms. Cook said. “I just don’t want her to be traumatized. She loves animals. She was white and was breathing heavy, like she was scared and didn’t know what to do.”

Here’s the kicker: the department has cleared Officer Gilkerson of wrongdoing, despite the fact that the department didn’t interview any of the witnesses (there was another bystander).

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If pyscho-killers “warm-up ” by torturing animals, what can we say about police officers who shoot dogs who don’t need shooting? And when will police receive training in dealing with dangerous, indeed, all dogs?

82 Responses to Ohio K-9 Cop Cleared of Wrongful Dog Shoot

  1. Of course I feel bad for the poor (apparently innocent) dog, but the first thing that struck me was:

    “…she consented to a search at the request of Officer Gilkerson.”

    My question is, why?

    • Because we as a country are “Hollywood Educated” for the most part, the idea that the police are there to “protect and serve” is drummed into us from as young an age, visits to elementary schools, the whole officer friendly thing etc.

      Not to say there aren’t guys out there who wont go out of the way to help someone in need and believe in doing the right thing, but they do that out of their own volition only.

      I had to actually explain to my wife a week or two ago about how there is actually no duty to protect the people and that there have been court cases supporting this. She could barely comprehend this at first until we came and read about Warren V. District of Columbia.

      • I have no problem with the “no duty” provisions of a LEO’s service. They’re at risk to begin with, just wearing the uniform and being on the job. They don’t get paid and should not be obligated to sacrifice or risk their safety in lieu of someone else.

        I do have a problem with the fact that it’s not made clear to the general public. We have every right to defend ourselves as much as peace officers, but we’re not treated with the same standards of justice.

        • I tend to disagree that they don’t get paid and are not expected to sacrifice themselves. Our entire society, from grade school through the media, constantly exhort that cops are heroes, especially when they get killed, often through their own fault, like car crashes. If they are heroes, then they should earn that status. Of course, our society nowadays makes heroes out of non-heroes or criminals, while real heroes are purposefully forgotten.

        • The “barneyfication” of America. Everyone is special, everyone wins, everyone gets a trophy. Those who truly excel are lost in the writhing masses of mediocrity.

    • Because she doesn’t realize that it’s a terrible idea.

      About a year ago, my wife got pulled over for speeding while we were driving to go see a movie (this is while we were staying at her grandfather’s house in Idaho). The officer was very polite, let us know that he had clocked us going 7 over, and said that there were suspicions of people running drugs in the area, and would we mind if he searched the vehicle? I said “No, I’d rather not do that” and got a stunned look from both my wife and the officer. He asked me if there was any reason why I wouldn’t consent to a search, and said that he could call for a K9 to come check out the exterior of the vehicle. I told him I just didn’t want to consent to any search, and that he could certainly have the K9 come sniff the truck if he felt he needed to.

      The officer said okay, walked back to his car, came back about five minutes later and let my wife off with a warning on the speeding. No search, no K9, no ticket, no drama.

      Wife asked me why I said no to the search. I told her that there’s no reason to consent. It would be an inconvenience at the least, and what if our truck had been previously owned by someone who hid a kilo of coke in one of the seats or something? Sure, it’s highly unlikely, but I see no reason to let my vehicle be searched if I have a choice in the matter.

      As I told her: Be polite, be respectful, but don’t ever voluntarily consent to a search.

      • As I understand it, he could have a K-9 run around the outside without any permission from you. Which means that if you had consented after being so promised (cops are allowed/encouraged to lie), in a few hours you would likely have had your car returned in 50 pieces, totally disassembled and unusable, because you consented to a search.

      • If the officer has to go to extra trouble to conduct a search where no consent is given, unless s/he truly suspects something, s/he’s unlikely to bother.

        If there is no articulable suspicion, why expend time and energy on a fishing expedition when consent is not forthcoming.

    • The Government has us well trained, that’s why. My wife clerked for a federal judge and was amazed at how many felons consented to a search — knowing the cops would find drugs and guns — because they didn’t think they had a choice.

      • Its just a fishing expedition. Its amazing the number of people who consent to having their car searched when there is no probable cause. Had a cop try that garbage with me once. Told him go get a warrant, After trying to bully me for a little while he let me go, Usually they call in a couple more cars to intimidate the drivers.

        • I’ve heard of a related scheme–cop stops you on a highway in the middle of nowhere, asks for consent to search. If you say “no”, he says, OK, well, we’ll just have to wait here a couple of hours til they can bring the dog here to sniff the car.” Harried travelling businessman sys, “Well, OK then, go ahead and search… “

      • Because when searching a car, you can find some interesting stuff that can be seized as “suspicious” without charging the occupants of the car – see “civil asset forfeiture” for details. Good example of the kind of stuff that can be deemed “suspicious” is large amounts of money in cash (over $1K can already be considered large). If the money is forfeited on the ground that it’s suspected of being drug money, the feds and the local PD split it, so the cops have a vested interested in finding things to seize.

        http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/03/civil-asset-forfeiture-7-things-you-should-know
        https://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/civil-asset-forfeiture

        (and just google for it, you’ll find plenty of stories)

  2. Why is the department leading the investigation of one of their officers? That’s one of the few circumstances where an outside investigation is appropriate…

    • Actually, every police shooting should be investigated by an outside party (not the DA, certainly not another group of cops who almost unfailingly will give a brother officer the benefit of the doubt and then some). If I shot a dog, you can be sure they wouldn’t let the circumstances be investigated by my friends – they’d want an independent investigation and that is what we should demand from our police.

      Many times police draw and fire on a suspect and the shoot is indeed righteous. But once in a while it isn’t but when cops investigate their own, they overlook a lot of facts. A system of independent truly review would guarantee the integrity of the investigation process and make everyone feel a whole lot better.

  3. When state and county cops raided Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo they shot the family’s two labs, one while it was running away. Then they bragged about it, one young LEO talking on the phone bragging about how they had just arrested the mayor and killed their dogs. During the ensuing lawsuit for false arrest and killing the dogs, the sheriff’s deputies admitted “at least one” of the dogs was running away when they were shot and killed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berwyn_Heights,_Maryland_mayor's_residence_drug_raid

    This cop is afraid of dogs like this lab? A dog who wasn’t even going after him? Probably afraid of the dark, too.

  4. how long before someone sets up a charity animal shelter for dogs shot by cops? Can we get on that? Just needs a catchy name…

  5. Hard to put into words how much I despise cops who do this. It takes a special kind of coward to pull a gun on a dog.

  6. I’ve seen a few thousand stray dogs while on patrol, but have not once been threatened by a lab. In fact, we had a bomb dog black lab that was retired. The dog was so friendly it got a whole lot more interested in getting its ears scratched than sniffing for explosives.

    • “I have been afraid of dogs my whole life that I don’t know. . .”

      This pretty much says it all. The guy has a neurotic fear of dogs, something that’s been with him his entire life, something he’s never resolved, and something he carries with him every day. What happened when he was approached by the tail-wagging lab is that he experienced a cascade of raw emotions fueled by his neurotic but, for him, all to real fear. In that moment all he saw was the dog—his vision narrowed, his lizard hind-brain gibbering irrational fear, he panicked and shot the dog. If he hadn’t had that fear would he have still shot the dog? This raises an interesting question about police qualifications. Rigorous psychological testing—the kind of LEO’s are supposed to receive before being hired—would have identified a neurotic fear like this. This is a clear psychological dysfunction and says something about his personality and, in a very direct way, about his suitability to carry the responsibilities of a police officer. Cops who panic at the sight of strange dogs shouldn’t be cops.

      • Dogs hated me as a kid. I don’t know why, I can’t explain it. They just did. If there was a stray out and about it would normally go for me even if I was in a pack of people -growling, barking and foaming. Suprised several owners of otherwise very friendly dogs. I learned to look the dog in the eye, never back down and yell a loud “Sit!!” and stand tall. Dogs would normally just stop- and continue the threatening behavior towards me. Until someone called or dragged them off. Never would have shot one- as I found just holding my ground was enough.

        Well, except for my friend’s malamute- ~125 lb dog who hated me from my first visit. Believe me, there’s a world of difference between an agressive dog and one that’s a real threate. If I was in his garage, the dog would throw himself against the garage door the whole time. He finally bit me after 5 years of trying while I was chaperoning a party his sisters were having at his house. I was trying to convince a drunk who’d ignored the signs to not go in the backyard to get back in the house. He was actually petting the dog, who just took a look at me as I opened the door and told the idiot to get inside and leaped for the door getting my knee, pinched the skin and put a hole clean through – I was able to run an alcohol swab through it. I was able to shove him off and slam the door. Witnesses claimed I said, ‘eat the drunk’. Drunk claim flying in a couple of seconds later. That’s a dog I would have had to shoot if there wasn’t an escape route, no doubt about it.

  7. Silly puppy. How dare you.wag your tail at a fraidycop? (Feel free to steal the word I just coined) 🙂

    • Awesome. I like that even better than my own invention of “Copsucker” (which describes somebody who thinks cops should never be held responsible for their actions because ‘they put their lives on the line for us every day’).

      • Yes, that “lives on the line every day” line gets my blood boiling every time.

        How exactly are cops putting their lives on the line if they just bust into a place (in groups of 4 or 5) and shoot anyone and anything that has the remotest chance of becoming a threat? Cops are supposed to resolve these situations with as little force as possible… These days, they seem intent on the opposite.

  8. And this guy is part of a K-9 unit? How can you be a K-9 handler if you don’t know dogs?
    I mean, how can he possibly be the alpha male(pack leader) of his K-9 partner, if he has Roverphobia of unknown dogs? If this guy is going to feel “threatened” by any dog he doesn’t personally know, then that means that it’s pretty much every dog but his. Right?

  9. “At no point in our careers as officers do we hope to pull a firearm and have to shoot anyone or anything.”

    Bullshit. Cops are pussies who become cops in order to commit crimes with impunity.

    • Um, no. I’m in the process of applying now. It’s not to commit crime, it’s to educate people who think cutting off a minivan full of kids to save 1/2 second of time getting to the stylist is OK. It’s to stop people who somehow think they are the exception to the “Don’t drink and drive” rule.

      However, I love dogs and wouldn’t shoot one unless it had already ripped half of my arm off. There are plenty of other ways to stop dogs. (Although dogs who are sniffing you don’t really need to be stopped as they aren’t harming anything. Maybe take him home so he doesn’t get run over?)

  10. Has a cop ever been not cleared for shooting, killing or abusing anyone who’s not a cop or a member of the Party? No doubt most cops are decent people, but when they stand by and cover up the criminals among them, they too become criminals.

  11. “the dog did not stop or change course when yelled at twice.”

    Seriously? Fvcking seriously? Some people just need beat with a rubber hose.

    • Yeah I couldn’t believe they said that either. Its sounds like they expected the dog to respond to police orders like a human. Ridiculous! There are many organizations willing to train police to deal with dogs on scene. How many departments require such training modules? Probably very few.

      Some shootings by patrol officers seem to be overreactions caused by misunderstanding canine behavior. Training could mitigate these kinds of shootings. Others incidents–such as the recent case where a Baltimore Police Officer cut a dog’s throat–suggest much darker motives. The shootings during SWAT operations are in a category of their own. These shootings are not about officers being afraid, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I believe the decision is tactical. The goal is to intimidate those in the residence and establish dominance. I wish this wasn’t the case, but raid puppycides (h/t to Radley Balko) happen so frequently I doubt they are just the result of panic.

      • My understanding is that it is SOP to shoot any dogs during a SWAT raid because they do not want to be even momentarily distracted from the human occupants by an animal that attacks or even just gets underfoot. Which might be somewhat reasonable if the SWAT raids were the Hollywood types, against armies of heavily-armed criminal ninjas in fortified buildings. But we all know that ain’t the case.

    • Not the first time I’ve read that line in a cop-shoots-dog story.

      Either the cops are all retarded children who believe dogs can speak and understand or the cops think we’re all retarded children who believe dogs can speak and understand.

      I recall another ND story a few years back where two classy folks had a loaded gun just sitting on a table and allegedly a dog knocked it onto the ground and it “went off” shooting the man of the house. In the article the woman of the house was quoted saying something along the lines of “I didnt think he had it in him” referring to the dog as though it was a malicious act on the dogs part.

      So maybe we’re all retarded children. Cops and non-cops alike. The latter is where I’ve settled. Everyone around me is a fucking retarded child regardless of age, position, status, etc…. I’m walking among a forest of idiots doing my best not to upset any of them lest I face the wrath of their retard strength.

  12. Why the hell are we spending money to buy cops Tasers, OC spray, and all kinds of other “less lethal” gear if they just go straight for the gun for any and all “threats” anyway?

  13. Dog’s mind: “Why here’s a new thing. I’ll come check this out…ooooooh people. I love people! I’ll go say hi to this person! Oh boy! Why is he yelling? I’ll just say hi. OH GOD MY LEG!”

  14. Only terrorist dogs hopped up on goofballs sniff tires and wag their tails. Clean shoot. Give him a Croix de Woof medal.

  15. Man, can this friggin people get jobs in nice, safe offices if they’re afraid of every damn thing that moves? Seriously, you’re that jumpy so you decided it would be a great idea to become a cop? I wish they’d start arming dogs.

  16. “I’ve always had a fear of dogs, man, oh man I’m so afraid of dogs! Look, an opening for a K9 officer, I’ll apply for that!”
    That is roughly equivalent to me applying to be a snake-handling holyroller preacher. Just my two cents…….

  17. What a fool. Anyone who has ever had a lab or lab mix knows they are one of the friendliest breeds. I have yet to see an aggressive one, even ones who have been mistreated.

  18. “I have been afraid of Cops my whole life that I don’t know. I’m not comfortable with Cops I do know.”

  19. “I have been afraid of dogs my whole life that I don’t know. I’m comfortable with dogs I do know.”

    I think a psychological evaluation concerning his irrational fears of dogs is in order.. This could spill over to Humans.

  20. This is the kind of story I think about whenever an officer tells me that not all cops are bad. If you aren’t putting cuff on this POS and hauling him off for unlawfully shooting an animal that was not a threat you become the problem. Not part of the problem…you are the problem.

  21. My fellow foxes have investigated my raid on the henhouse and cleared me of all wrongdoing.

  22. This government employee should be charged with as many counts of wanton endangerment as there were citizens within range of his firearm.

    It is well past time to disarm government employees. They carry arms only because the citizens allow them. Remove that privilege. Require them to seek the aid of an armed citizen if they think they need that force.

  23. “the department has cleared Officer Gilkerson of wrongdoing, despite the fact that the department didn’t interview any of the witnesses (there was another bystander).”

    Nice. I think that the city needs to start an investigation into this since none of the witnesses were interviewed. I also think Chief Whitehead needs to be replaced if he isn’t going to do any investigation into a shooting (even if it wasn’t a person).

  24. Worst case scenario you get a dog bite…they’re not likely to kill you…if they were there trying to kill you, then I get lethal force…but at the risk of getting a little dog bite you try and MURDER the dog?

    Unacceptable. I hope that dog gets some justice.

    • Worst case with a lab is you get slobbered on when it licks you. I’ve only known of one lab that would bite and that was because the idiot who owned it thought it would be funny to send it to attack school.

  25. Well, after all, it was a wrongful dog (according to the title). Maybe the cop was a strict grammarian and saw no other alternative.

  26. : the department has cleared Officer Gilkerson of wrongdoing, despite the fact that the department didn’t interview any of the witnesses Surprise, surprise. Just another day in Nazi land.

  27. Two things:

    1) The expression on that dog’s face just yells “Boy, this is fucked up.”
    2) Hey, people are always saying police should shoot people in the leg… and the dog has extra!

  28. Dog-Shooting Cops= absolute scum

    Somebody ought to take the guy’s balls so that he cannot contaminate the rest of the world

  29. Officer DONUT (Oops I mean Officer Dic- Weed) The Dept actually made him a K9 handler? Poor Dog.
    Nothing like (COPS) cover each others A$$e$!

    Gee I’ve walked into fenced yards to visit friends that live in another town ( not commonly able to visit) Their Labs bark and want to lick and play, and another friend with Golden retrievers, same thing . I have never felt threatened walking through the gate entering the dog’s domain getting to the house.

    There needs to be outside (dept) accountability and review!

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