BRIGHTON — A Commerce City police officer who shot and killed an unrestrained dog in November 2012 was found not guilty by an Adams County jury Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Robert Price faced felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals in connection to the Nov. 24, 2012, shooting of Chloe, a pit bull who was found unrestrained in the 9600 block of Nucla Street.
In a video of the incident captured by a neighbor, Price was seen firing his service weapon multiple times at Chloe after the dog was shocked with a Taser after an animal control officer was unable to control Chloe with a catch pole.
The city released a statement at midafternoon thanking the jury for its service.
"We thank the jury for a thoughtful conclusion to an emotionally charged event," the statement said. "Commerce City places the highest value on the safety and well-being of our community, our citizens and our employees. Our police department is committed to the vision of setting the standard of excellence for public safety and service in the region. Now that the verdict has been rendered, the chief of police will complete the administrative review, taking the appropriate next steps to positively move the department forward."
Officer Price will return to duty. The city's release said the administrative review would determine if any city policies were violated. The city expects to release the outcomes of that review in the weeks ahead. Price, who joined the Commerce City Police Department in 2006, was placed on paid administrative live after an internal investigation into the shooting was launched the week after it occurred. That investigation was subsequently turned over to the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office on Nov. 27, 2012, and charges were announced against Price on Dec. 20, 2012.
Prosecutors had argued that the statements made by officers in their incident reports did not match the video record of the incident, while lawyers for Price made the case that Price acted with proper force given the dog's behavior.
Following the verdict, a statement from District Attorney Dave Young's office was issued, quoting Young, "I respect the jury's verdict. These are very difficult cases for prosecutors to handle. We presented all the evidence to the jury, including the video of the shooting, and the jury based its verdict on that."
In the wake of these and other cases of law-enforcement officers shooting dogs last year, the Colorado Legislature passed Senate Bill 226, which requires additional training for Colorado law enforcement on handling animals and dealing with pet owners. Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill into law earlier this year at the Denver Animal Shelter.