GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ)—In Anne Arundel County, a burglary investigation took a tragic turn when an officer shot and killed a beloved family dog. Now that family is calling for justice.
Investigative reporter Mike Hellgren has more on why the officer pulled the trigger.
This is a story that has generated intense outrage and calls for action in the community. The dog's owners say he was so gentle and wonders how this could happen. So did we. WJZ went looking for answers.
A rookie Anne Arundel County police officer shot and killed a 4.5-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever named Vern, leaving his family devastated and demanding answers.
"He says 'I'm really, really sorry. I just had to shoot him,' and I'm like 'You didn't have to,'" said Mike Reeves, dog owner.
"I'm terrified. Someone else could be dead and not just my dog," said Patrick Reeves, dog owner.
Police tell WJZ Officer Rodney Price was investigating a neighbor's recent burglary on Lombardee Circle in Glen Burnie when Vern confronted him. He fired twice.
"Our police officer states that he then turned to leave the front door of the residence, went down the steps and in the driveway, and when he turned, the officer reports that he was then confronted and attacked. I just want to assert to everyone that as their police chief that I'm going to take these matters seriously," said Chief Kevin Davis, Anne Arundel County Police.
"You try to use pepper spray, mace, a baton. There is so many things that I think could've been avoided," Patrick Reeves said.
Chief Davis put Price on administrative duty with pay.
"We're going to conduct this investigation thoroughly. We're going to leave no stone unturned, and we intend to get to the bottom of it," Davis said.
He says it is too early to determine whether Price should lose his job.
"I hate to tell somebody to lose their job. I think with it being a very young police officer doing his very best he got scared," Mike Reeves said.
Vern's body has been taken to Virginia Tech for a necropsy. The results will be key in this investigation because there were no eyewitnesses.
The dog has a champion bloodline. His father won "Best in Breed" in Westminster.
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