Colorado Officers Facing Lawsuit Over Dog Shooting

A couple has filed a lawsuit on August 25, 2021, for the shooting of their family dog by a police officer in Loveland, Colorado. The incident happened on June 29, 2019, when Officer Matthew Grashorn shot a 14-month old Staffordshire Terrier Boxer Mix named Herkimer, owned by the couple, Wendy Love and Jay Hamm.

The Loveland Police Chief Bob Ticer and two senior officers reviewed the case five months after the incident and found that the officer’s action was justified. The couple had been traumatized by the shooting since and decided to file a lawsuit against the department whom they claimed covered up what happened. 

The June 2019 Shooting

The June 2019 Shooting

The shooting occurred in a parking lot near a vacant building in Loveland, Colorado in June 2019. The couple, who owns a firewood delivery business, were with their three dogs when Officer Grashorn came to investigate them for trespassing the property. The owner of the property who was inside the building reported the couple to the police.

In a body camera footage that was released on August 25, 2021, it was shown that the two dogs were running towards the officer immediately after he alights from the car. The officer quickly drew his gun and shot the dog twice – one in the head and once in the torso.

The dog was seen collapsing on the ground. Audio from the first few moments of the video was not available, so it was not known if the dogs were barking or growling.

After the shooting, Wendy Love was heard asking Officer Grashorn if she could take her dog to the veterinarian since it is still breathing. The officer refused and said they had to wait until his supervising Sergeant had arrived to investigate the scene.

While they were waiting, Jay Hamm argued with Grashron that he should have used his taser instead of the gun, and the officer responded annoyingly, “Yeah, okay, thanks for telling me how to do my job.” The officer added, ” So if a suspect comes at me with a knife, then I need to tase before I shoot him? It’s the same thing.”

It took 8 minutes for the supervisor to arrive and another several minutes before the couple to seek medical attention for Herkimer. The dog spent 4 days in the intensive care and was later euthanized.

Lawsuit Filed

In June 2021, Love and Hamm filed a lawsuit against Grashorn and later expanded it to include both the supervisor and the police chief. The lawsuit claimed that the officer could have taken other alternatives for defending himself before shooting the dog, using a taser, a baton, or pepper spray. He could have backed out of the situation by retreating to his vehicle.

The lawsuit also blamed the officers for lying to the Larimer County Animal Control when they stated that the dog was a danger to the police and needed to be euthanized, and for finding the officer’s actions as reasonable and in compliance with the department policy. The police refused to comment on the allegations while under litigation.

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Pete Decker