‘I’m not in the business to get bit’: Lawsuit filed after Loveland police officer shoots 14-month-old dog

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LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — A civil lawsuit has been filed against the Loveland Police Department and City of Loveland after a police officer shot a couple’s 14-month-old dog.

The dog is a Staffordshire bull terrier/boxer mix. His owners say he was happy and playful and never aggressive. He died four days after being shot by a Loveland police officer.

According to the lawsuit filed by Wendy Love and Jay Hamm, the incident happened on June 29, 2019.

The full body camera footage from the incident was released on Wednesday morning by Sarah Schielke, the attorney representing Love and Hamm.

“Really from every second from inception of this encounter through the end, his judgment is terrible, there’s no common sense, there’s no care. There’s no compassion,” Schielke said.

This happened in June 2019 but came Schielke’s attention after she filed a lawsuit against Loveland police involved in the rough arrest of dementia patient Karen Garner earlier this year.

Schielke said her clients were hesitant about going public with what happened, given the publicity of the Garner case “and just given how it really devastating it is to keep reliving this.”

“They are of limited means, very fearful of retaliation from the Loveland Police Department, especially given the fact all the higher-ups approved what happened there. They are private people, and they were scared, but they did summon the courage to do it and are taking it one step at a time,” Schielke said.

What the video shows

In the video, you can see a pair of dogs get out of a truck and approach an officer, who Schielke identified as Matthew Grashorn.

Grashorn immediately points his gun at the dogs and can be seen firing two shots at one of the dogs, identified as Herkimer.

Herkimer immediately goes limp after being shot and Love runs to offer the dog aid. There is no sound from the body camera until after the shooting occurs. Grashorn then turns it on and tells the woman to go back to her vehicle.

As the dog’s owner, Love, tries to approach the dog, Grashorn can be heard saying, “Ma’am, get away. He will bite you, he’s hurt.”

Hamm can be heard shouting from the truck and Grashorn responds, “Maybe you ought to have your dogs in the truck, is this your property?” “That’s why I’m here, because you’re trespassing.”

Love continues to try and console the dog, asking Grashorn if she can take him to the vet.

“Ma’am they’re not going to be able to help him,” said Grashorn.

Grashorn proceeds to walk over to the truck and speak with Hamm. He asks Hamm what he and Love are doing at the empty parking lot and he explains they were there to paint an ice machine for a customer to store wood in.

Hamm can be heard asking Grashorn why he shot the dog.

“I’m not in the business to get bit,” shared Grashorn.

About five minutes into the video, another officer can be seen on scene.

Later in the video at the 8:49 mark, Hamm asks Grashorn why he had to shoot the dog.

Grashorn: You need to listen to what you’re telling me. So, if a suspect comes at me with a knife, I need to try and Tase him before I shoot him?

Hamm: Did he have a knife?

Grashorn: It’s the same thing. He’s a dog pit bull coming to bite, me I don’t take the chances. I have to do what’s going to work.

At around 10 minutes into the body camera footage, several other officers can be seen on scene helping Love and the dog.

Schielke said the dog was put into intensive care of four days before it had to be euthanized due to the injuries from the shooting.

LPD’s chain of command reviewed the video five months later and found the shooting “violated no policy” and was “reasonable,” according to Schielke.

“This is yet another agonizing illustration of all that is wrong at the Loveland Police Department. Dogs are our family. Herkimer could have been any of our beloved pets. And he was shot dead in broad daylight. In the middle of suburbia. By the police. With no consequences to the officer whatsoever. And then found to be reasonable by his superiors. What in the actual hell is going on at the Loveland Police Department?” Schielke said.

Schielke said the department ruled the officer did not violate any policies, but they want him fired and they want a change in leadership at the department.

The Loveland police department told FOX31’s Deborah Takahara: “It is and has been our policy not to comment on pending litigation.”

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