NEWARK, Del. (WTXF) - Video taken by bystander and animal advocate Leigh Spencer Friday afternoon May 11 shows the two loose dogs wandering around with several officers standing nearby. A few hours later, Newark police officers ran the Shepherd mix and the Pit Bull mix down with their police cruisers. One of the dogs was injured, but escaped. The other hobbled away, but was later shot to death by police.
“At one point, there was an officer walking there,” Spencer said.
Leigh said people who stopped to help the animals were in tears when the police hit the dogs with their cars.
“To see the police run them over with one of their vehicles, I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s traumatizing,” said Spencer.
Newark police declined to speak on camera, but said the animals were aggressive, growling, baring their teeth and charging at the police. Officers from the state Office of Animal Welfare were on scene as well.
In total, at least 15 members of law enforcement spent an hour and a half chasing the dogs around the intersection of Ogletown and Marrows Road with catchpoles and dog treats before resorting to lethal force.
Police said they became concerned the animals would attack passersby and decided to run the dogs over because the animals were moving fast and could not be safely shot.
Lee’s friend Ashton works for the SPCA. She was off duty, but happened upon the scene. Both women dispute the police account.
“His tail was wagging. He was drooling a little bit. Really nothing aggressive at all,” said Ashton Cleveland.
“They didn’t look aggressive. They looked terrified. I’ve seen terrified dogs before. I know what that looks like,” Spencer said.
Leigh and Ashton said they understand the officers had a difficult duty, but are calling for the department to undergo new training.
“It’s gruesome. I don’t think it was necessary. But, obviously, I respect the police force. I respect them wanting to keep the public safe. But, I just think it shouldn’t have come to that point at all,” Spencer explained.