LAKE CHARLES, LA — A family is dealing with the loss of their dog after it was gunned down by police. The incident happened while officers were pursuing three violent robbery suspects. An internal investigation has been launched by the police department, and members of the community are outraged over the animal’s death.
The Lake Charles Police Department was called to the Cinemark Movie Theatre at around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, July 2 for a reported carjacking. When they arrived the victim stated that three young men (two juveniles and Donnie Caldwell Leonard, 19) then approached him and beat him until he handed over the keys to his vehicle.
“A man who was bringing his parents to the movies was beaten so badly that he had to go to the hospital,” Deputy Chief Mark Kraus, Lake Charles Police Department, said.
After they fled the scene in the vehicle an officer spotted the car and attempted a traffic stop. The suspects kept going and eventually parked and jumped out of the car. A foot chase ensued and the suspects ran through several yards in the neighborhood.
One yard had a dog in it. The family’s pet, “Monkey,” escaped and started running down the street towards responding officers who became fearful of the dog.
The police officer felt he was being attacked by the dog and discharged his weapon which fatally wounded the dog. Witnesses told KPLC News that at least four gun shots were heard. “Monkey” was shot dead by the officer.
"She had not ripped his clothes, she had not tried to bite him, and he shot her instead of trying to use pepper spray or some non lethal force," Chris Crochet, one of the owners of the slain dog, told KPLC.
An internal investigation is being conducted, which is protocol anytime a police officer discharges his weapon.
“After visiting with the family of the deceased dog today [Tuesday, July 3] our hearts are heavy for them as well as the police officer that was involved,” Kraus, said. “We don’t know how this could have been avoided right now, as there are no winners in this case.”
All three of the suspects were apprehended and arrested. They have been charged with Car Jacking, Simple Robbery and Resisting Arrest.
Kraus says it's too soon to know whether the officer used his gun appropriately.