Owner says TPD officer overreacted when he shot her 26-pound dog

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- A Topeka woman is struggling with the loss of her family's dog - shot and killed last month by a Topeka police officer.

Harriette Macnish says it's a loss that should not have happened.

"She was the perfect dog," Harriette told us.

Six years ago a little brown mutt showed up at her and her husband Jim Macnish's door, and quickly made herself at home.

"I decided we had to keep her even though I didn't have much time, and it's the best decision I could have made," Harriette said. "She was a great blessing."

Now the house, where the miniature pinscher mix named Josie used to run and play, is emptier.

Harriette says on July 13, Officer Michael Cruse shot and killed Josie in the backyard.

Topeka police say an officer responded to the house in the Westboro neighborhood on an alarm and was checking the house for signs of a possible break-in.

Harriette says her daughter in Illinois called to to tell her the alarm company informed her police were at the house.

Harriette has a hard time describing what happened next.

"I went and looked in the front yard and saw a police car. I came back around and he was bent down. Josie was running toward him. It was her yard and she didn't know him. And he shot her twice and killed her."

She describes being horrified and telling herself her dog couldn't be dead.

"I ran over and grabbed her and held her for about half an hour."

In her despair and shock, she says she doesn't remember talking to Officer Cruse. She says two other police officers came to the house around a half hour later and apologized.

In his written report, in which the officer's name was blacked out, he said he felt threatened because the dog was charging at him in an aggressive manner, barking and growling.

The report reads: "When the dog continued to attack toward me, I obtained by department issued Glock 9mm from my holster and shot the dog two times effectively ending the imminent attack."

Harriette doesn't understand how the officer could have felt so threatened.

"A 26-pound dog?"

Harriette demonstrated how tall Josie was by holding her hands apart.

"She wasn't aggressive. The only thing she's ever bitten was a dead squirrel. She was just one of the friendliest creatures you've ever met."

Harriette says they have an underground electric fence installed, and Josie knew not to go past the perimeters. She understands the officer didn't know there was an electric fence, but says the officer was on the other side of the perimeter toward the driveway, about 15 feet away from Josie.

Harriette remembers her companion by looking at pictures, Josie's toys, and the urn where her ashes are safely stored - wondering what could have been done different.

"I think it's an overreaction. I don't understand why not the mase, the pepper spray. Why a gun?" she said.

Topeka police Deputy Chief Brian Desch told 13 NEWS officers went through two hours of dog encounter training in 2012. Desch said TPD planned a refresher course this year.

Jim Macnish is a retired Shawnee County Judge.