Officer Cleared in Dog Shooting

Investigation concludes that Officer Johnny Wooldridge was behaving in accordance with guidelines when he shot and killed Naive the dog

An internal investigation has cleared an Austin Park Police officer of wrongdoing in the May 26 shooting of a dog at Emma Long Metropolitan Park. The investigation, conducted by the city's Public Safety and Emergency Management Department's Professional Standards Division, concluded that Officer Johnny Wooldridge acted within Park Police guidelines for use of force when he shot a female dog, described as a pit bull, three times.

A July 3 memorandum outlining the investigation found that a park visitor had approached the dog, which was chained to a lawn chair, to pet her and that the dog bit the visitor on the hand. The visitor's mother-in-law called 911, and Wooldridge responded. When Wooldridge and a park employee approached the dog's family, the memo states, the dog – named Naive – stood up, growled, and charged them. According to the memo, Wool­dridge shot the dog three times after she lunged at the park employee. A final shot, delivered four to five minutes later, killed the dog after her owner, Juan Moreno, asked the officer to put the dog out of her misery, the memo states.

The memo quotes Moreno as saying that Naive was tethered at the time of the shooting. However, investigators concluded that she had come loose from her chain. The investigation found that Wooldridge's gun was pointed toward the ground when he fired it and that the risk of human injury from his shots was minimal. It also concluded that use of a Taser stun gun would have been ineffective, because Wooldridge was not within the Taser's optimum range of 7 to 15 feet from the dog.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

dog shooting, Johnny Wooldridge, Juan Moreno, use of force

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