Published: August 30, 2013
Josh Burch struggled to hold back tears almost 12 hours after his dog Cara was shot and killed by a Colorado Springs police officer early Friday.
The shooting happened as officers investigated vehicle burglaries in southeast Colorado Springs.
Shortly before 4 a.m., two officers stopped in the 1100 block of Sandpiper Drive to check on a man who they said was lying on the road. The officers asked the man to show his hands and he stood up and "staggered toward the middle of the street," police said in a news release issued Friday evening.
Police said that's when a brown pit bull charged at an officer as she repeatedly tried to make it stop. The release said the officers repeatedly asked Burch if it was his dog. Police said the dog was barking and growling.
"Everything happened like that," Burch said, snapping his fingers.
The U.S. Army sergeant said he and Cara were sitting on the edge of his driveway next to the sidewalk when a Colorado Springs police car sped up and slammed on its brakes.
Burch, who said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has trouble sleeping, pointed to black skid marks in the road as he described two officers quickly exiting the police cruiser and his dog dashing across the road to greet them.
"She was wagging her tail and happy," Burch said, echoing what next-door neighbor Kim McDow described as Cara's usual temperament.
"She was always the type that if she saw you, she'd come fast, like a happy charge," McDow said.
Another neighbor, Jeff Hillstrom, also said the dog is friendly. Hillstrom said Cara was "like the neighborhood mascot."
According to Burch, the female police officer "didn't even give any commands." Burch said the officer pulled out her gun and started firing at his dog.
"It was completely undisciplined," he said.
Police said they fired four times at the dog and one of the bullets ricocheted off the ground and hit the Burches' house. A bullet hole was visible in the upstairs master bedroom window.
Burch's wife, Danielle, and their 6-year-old son, Braedyn, were sleeping upstairs. One-year-old Levi was asleep several feet from where the bullet struck the house.
"As mad as I am about what they did to my dog, what really pisses me off is there are two bullet holes in my house," Burch said. "They could have killed my wife. They could have killed Braedyn or Levi. They didn't even care."
Danielle Burch said she awoke suddenly when the bullet broke the glass and she heard the dog "cry out" before more shots sounded.
"I was hysterical," she said. "What if that did hit me? I could have been laying up there dying or dead.
"And then she said, 'I shot your dog,'" Danielle Burch said.
Meanwhile, Josh Burch said a male officer told him to lie face down. The soldier said he did and immediately the officer grabbed him around the neck and dragged him about 20 feet into the middle of Sandpiper Drive where he was placed in handcuffs.
Burch showed abrasions on his foot and nose and red marks on his neck where he said the male officer "put his boot."
Burch said he was handcuffed for about 10 minutes.
Josh and Danielle Burch said they asked the officers for their badge numbers and names but said the officers refused to share the information.
In the release, police cited laws requiring animal owners to restrain their pets. The dog's owners were not cited, pending the outcome of an investigation, police said.
The Burches spent Friday taking Cara to be cremated and visiting attorneys' offices.
"They need to own up to it," Josh Burch said. "Justice needs to be done."