Chillicothe, Ohio – A police department has determined that its officer acted within policy when he opened fire on a dog in front of two children and then proceeded to fire a stray bullet into a neighboring house.
The department has determined that Officer Traevon Williams should face no consequences for his actions and has simply recommended that he take an online course to learn how to deal with animals after he opened fire in a residential neighborhood and endangered the lives of several innocent people.
The incident occurred on March 8 when Williams was visiting a house for a follow-up investigation. The footage from his body camera shows him walking up to the front porch where two young girls are standing, and asking them if their parents are home.
One of the girls opens the front door, and as a woman can be heard yelling in the background, a dog comes running out. Williams immediately starts running back off the porch, grabs his gun out of its holster and fires two rounds in the dog’s direction.
Chillicothe Police Chief Keith Washburn told the Chillicothe Gazette that Williams did not do anything wrong because the department’s use of force policy states that officers "can shoot at a vicious dog if there's risk of serious harm or death to an officer or a bystander."
"In this case, the officer felt the pit bull charging him (could potentially cause) imminent physical harm, so he shot at it," Washburn said.
In his report, Williams claimed that “a large Pitbull” charged at him, growling, and that it was only after he retreated and the dog continued to charge at him that he opened fire.
However, the body camera footage shows that the dog was not growling, and mere seconds passed between the time the dog emerged and the time Williams opened fire, which raises questions about how much he was able to discern about the dog’s demeanor before he attempted to kill it.
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It was only after Williams fired two rounds at the dog—one of which entered a neighbor’s home and damaged their front window—that it can be seen that the dog was not charging at him specifically.
In fact, as Williams stands on the street with his gun pointed at the dog, the dog stands on the sidewalk and looks around before running back to his owner when she exits the house. If he had really been intent on harming Williams, he would have continued to run towards him and would have likely been barking or growling.
“He just growled at me,” Williams told the owner.
“He won’t hurt you!” the woman responded. “He don’t bite.”
A second officer is standing near a patrol car and after watching the scene unfold, he is looking back at Williams with a giant smile on his face. If he truly believed his partner’s life was in danger, there is a good chance he would not have responded by smiling and chuckling.
Traevon Williams is incredibly lucky that his reckless actions caused minor damage to the dog and to the neighboring house, and that the two young children who were present were not injured by the gunfire.
As The Free Thought Project reported, a dog in Alliance, Ohio, met a very different fate after it was shot by Officer Josh Tenney in July 2017. Tenney’s body camera showed him beckoning a trio of dogs and calling out, “Come here puppy!” When one of the dogs did begin to run towards him, he opened fire and shot at least five rounds, killing the playful puppy and leaving its owner shocked and confused.
In both cases, police officers were caught on camera recklessly opening fire on dogs while failing to take the time to discern whether they were being playful or aggressive, and endangering the public as a result. The police departments in Ohio are responding by teaching their officers that it is legal to lie in their reports, even when video evidence proves otherwise, as long as they make the blanket claim that they feared for their lives.