WR officer shoots dog to death

WARNER ROBINS — A Helena woman says she and her family were endangered when a Warner Robins police officer opened fire on the family dog May 12 on the porch of a trailer at 205 Bargain Road.

The officer fired after the pit bull lunged at him, according to a police incident report.

The dog died the next morning at a veterinarian’s office.

Warner Robins police Lt. Bobby Bradley said an internal investigation is under way which is routine procedure when officers use their gun. He declined to comment on the incident while it is under review.

Jackie Leatherwood of Helena said she was visiting her daughter and was inside the home near the porch when the dog was shot.

Leatherwood said she could have been hit by a stray bullet.

She said the officer was totally out of control and fired more than 16 shots at the dog, which had superficial wounds on the sides and was shot twice in the buttocks.

The dog died after a seizure from the trauma at the vet’s office where animal control had taken it after the shooting, she said.

“If he’s going to flip and go into a blind panic, he does not need a uniform or a gun,” Leatherwood said of the officer.

But officer Bradley Alan Benjamin wrote in the incident report that he initially fired three shots at the dog after it growled and lunged at him.

The dog retreated to a corner of the porch, whined and then started to growl again, the officer wrote.

“The dog then came back after me so I discharged my weapon again,” Benjamin wrote in the report. “This time I did not stop until I needed to reload my weapon.”

As the officer reloaded his weapon, the trailer door opened and the dog ran inside, according to the report.

“I advised dispatch that shots were fired and that everyone appears OK but that the owners of the dog were upset of the shooting,” Benjamin wrote.

The incident report said the officer was responding to a complaint of a dog possibly hurt and howling.

The officer said the dog he saw chained when he drove up was now on the porch. He said the dog seemed friendly at first and the owner was not in sight.

Sammie Smith, one of the handlers of the family’s three pit bulls was around the corner with one of the other dogs when the shooting occurred.

Smith said he thought the officer was in the police car when he released the dog, Dro, with a command to get to the porch.

Smith was about to release the other pit bull, Blue, when he heard the officer begin firing. A third pit pull, a puppy named Queen, was inside the trailer.

Smith said all three of the dogs were friendly and had never bitten anyone.

The officer said in the report that another officer took a photo of “claw marks that were on my left pant leg.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.