Officials explain decision not to file charges against man who killed dog

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- No criminal charges against a man who shot and killed a family dog in Commerce City Saturday.

The decision by the 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young deeply disappoints the dog’s owners.

The Martinez family had gathered at their home in the 14800 block of E. 116th Ave. for their 5-year-old daughter’s birthday party, when their Lab-mix, Clifford, jumped their fence and attacked a Great Dane- mix. Moments later, a single shot would kill Clifford.

And on Wednesday, the DA says he can’t prove there was a crime.

Raymond and Emily Martinez wait at a press conference with the DA in Brighton.

A list of questions stare them in the face.

“I got a big list,” says Raymond.

They can’t understand why the man who shot and killed their dog, Clifford, on Saturday got away with it.

“No charges. I was hoping for, at least, something. For them to come in with absolutely nothing, I was pretty upset,” says Raymond.

Young says they considered two charges.

One: aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony.

“In order to gain conviction on that count, we have to prove to 12 individuals that the individual involved in this case, needlessly killed this dog. We do not feel we can do that,” says Young.

He says the man was justified in shooting Clifford to protect his own dog, seen barking outside his home a few blocks away.

Young says the dog suffered bruising on his neck.

We could see the dog’s neck was shaved.

“Did he also have the right to point his gun at me, while I was down on the floor with Clifford?” asks Emily.

The DA also says he could not prove felony menacing, which is defined as knowingly putting someone in fear of his or her life.

“In this case he had his dog and the leash in one hand, his gun in the other. He did not have an opportunity to put his gun away. But he says he did trigger the safety mechanism on the gun after he fired,” says Young.

Young says he’s sorry for the Martinez family’s loss.

But he must follow the letter of the law.

“Do I condone his actions? Absolutely not. Can I prove beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was committed? I don’t think so,” says Young.

The Martinez family still can’t make sense of it all.

They lost a furry member of their family--and gained a sense of frustration with the legal system.

“All I can think about is seeing him when he got shot. It’s still horrifying,” says Raymond.

The DA says police did not present him with a charge of unlawful discharge of a weapon. But says if he had been, he would have faced the same problem of proving the man was not justified in protecting his dog.

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2 comments

  • Craig Smith

    Wow, this is just crazy. The dog jumped a fence into his yard and started attacking his dog and someone thinks he didn’t have a right to protect himself and his property? When do you have the right then? Never anymore? And the way this news station swings it just makes me sick.

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