BRIGHTON — The Adams County Sheriff's Deputy who shot and killed a dog after officers mistakenly responded to the wrong address after a burglary alarm will not face criminal charges.
In a letter to Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr dated March 1, Adams County District Attorney Dave Young concluded the investigation into the Jan. 14 shooting would not yield charges against Deputy Wilfred Europe.
“The issue in this investigation is the requirement that the prosecution establish that a person 'needlessly kills' an animal,” the letter read. “Given the facts and circumstances presented in this case, the evidence is insufficient to have a reasonable likelihood of success at trial in meeting our burden that Deputy Europe 'needlessly' killed the dog beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The letter noted multiple discrepancies between the deputies' account of the events that night compared to the dog's owner, Jeff Fisher. Fisher initially refused to speak with investigators before appearing on the Peter Boyles radio show and claiming that deputies forced entry into his business prior to the shooting.
Both Europe and Deputy Dave Slater both gave testimony to investigators that Fisher opened the door after Fisher allegedly closed it shut after deputies made an initial attempt to open the unlocked door. It was at that point, as the deputies held Fisher at gunpoint, that the dog ran out of the building, according to the deputies.
Europe fired twice at the dog after it exited the building.
Officers were originally called to a burglar alarm at 5384 Tennyson St.; however, the location of the actual alarm was 5386 Tennyson St., which was east of the main office of Thoutt Brothers Concrete. Fisher's space — leased from Thoutt Brothers — was north of the main office and did not bear an address on the outside.
Ultimately, investigators determined there was not enough evidence to warrant filing of an aggravated cruelty to animals charge, and Young's letter to Sheriff Darr backed up the officer's account of the incident and Europe's handling of the call.
“Aside from the discrepancies ... Deputy Europe was called to investigate a burglar alarm on private property after business hours in the darkness,” the letter read. “Any law enforcement officer in that situation would have his or her handgun at the ready.”
This was not the first case Deputy Europe's use of a firearm was questioned as a member of the Adams County Sheriff's Office.
In November 2012, the independent Adams County Critical Incident Team cleared Europe of wrongdoing in the fatal February 2012 shooting of Don Cambron, 40, during a traffic stop.
Cambron was riding in an SUV with three others — Tim Collins, Thomas Hibdon and Michelle Meyers — near Federal Boulevard and 63rd Avenue in February 2012 when the vehicle was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Officers involved in the stop called for backup “because he felt ... the circumstances and actions of the parties in the car were strange,” according to the report.
Officers that night were arresting Collins on two outstanding warrants related to an arrest in Idaho when one deputy reported seeing Cambron reaching for a pellet gun on the floorboard of the SUV, which officers said looked similar to a 9mm semiautomatic weapon. Europe fired four shots, killing Cambron.
Europe was placed on leave following the shooting but remained employed as a sheriff’s deputy.