ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The Round Rock Police Department has about two more weeks to respond to a federal lawsuit after officers shot and killed a dog while responding to a home alarm in 2014. The federal lawsuit was filed in April, and two of the officers involved in the shooting were served earlier this month.
Christiana Dijkman, the attorney for the plaintiff, Russell Lane Jr., says they filed the lawsuit in federal court because Lane’s constitutional rights were violated. Dijkman says it was an unreasonable search and destruction of property after the three police officers, named in the suit as B.R. Rechtfertig, J.P Keyes, and A.J. Rivera, shot Bullet, the 8-year-old Rottweiler.
Two years later, there’s now a new set of paws in the Lane household. Russell Lane Jr. and his wife Hope welcomed their new dog Rocco home, a few months after they lost Bullet.
Round Rock Police say officers shot and killed Bullet in May of 2014 while responding to an alarm at the Lane’s home on Parkside Circle.
When they arrived, they found the front door propped open. At the time, the department said the officers announced themselves and entered the home. Police reports say one of the officers yelled at the open door for about three minutes before entering.
“My dog never moved off the back futon, [which] would indicate that he was not aggressive; an aggressive dog would meet you at the door,” explains Russell.
Officers say once they were inside the house, they went through the home checking the rooms. When they eventually spotted Bullet in a back bedroom, police say he started to growl and began to charge, so two officers shot him.
But Russell says Bullet had hip dysplasia and it was difficult for him to move.
“He would stand up and he would stretch and he would limp probably for the first two or three minutes,” says Russell.
Russell believes after the first shot was fired, Bullet may have got scared and tried to run past the officers to the back door, which is where he would go when he was in trouble.
The lawsuit alleges officers lied. An animal crime scene expert who reviewed the autopsy, believes the dog was retreating when he was shot. He says one of the officers said he shot Bullet three times in the dog’s left side as it was charging, however there were no bullet wounds on the left side, only the right side. With the angle the officer shot from, the expert says the wounds show the dog had to be retreating and was ‘no longer a threat to any of the officers.’
“There has to be a better procedure, a proper procedure, of going to a resident, and knowing that that resident has a dog. They have to have dog sleeves, they have to have something,” says Hope Lane.
The Round Rock Police Department and the City of Round Rock, which is also named in the lawsuit, declined to comment during the lawsuit. However after the shooting, Round Rock Police told KXAN officers are trained to shoot and defend themselves if threatened.
After this shooting, Round Rock Police started implementing new training on how to deal with dogs, to prevent this from happening again.
Police also teamed up with the animal control unit to roll out a new program called “BARK,” which stands for Be Aware Of Residential K9’s. The department issued stickers for people to put outside their homes, doors, gates or windows to let officers know that a dog lives there, when they respond to an emergency. However, Russell doesn’t know how much good the BARK program is after his experience. Russell did have a Beware of Rottweiler sign posted on a front window of his house.