Editor’s Note: The following is an investigative summary submitted to BeaverCountian.com by District Attorney David Lozier, detailing an Ambridge Police shooting of a dog on May 12. The incident was widely discussed on social media; we are publishing the District Attorney’s findings in full as written.
At 12:33pm on Friday May 12, an Ambridge Borough Police Ofﬁcer shot a dog in the Police Department Parking lot.
The Chief of Police asked me to review the reports and videos of the event to determine if the ofﬁcer committed a criminal act or violated proper police practices.
On Thursday May 17, 2023, Ambridge Borough provided me with police reports and witness statements relating to these events. I reviewed these materials. I interviewed the ofﬁcers involved and a witness to the event.
The public reports and police reports are similar in their content. Just after 9:00 a.m. the police were dispatched to the area of Lena and 23rd Street in Ambridge for a report of a found dog. The dog had a leash but no collar. It appeared to be a large female Mastiff, estimated at about 100 pounds, with no license or tags. The dog was transported in a police cruiser to the Ambridge Police Station without incident. The dog was scanned by the police but it had no chip. The dog was secured in the Police Department K-9 kennel. The kennel is large, designed for large dogs. The dog was given water and given treats. A photo of the dog was posted to social media in an effort to locate the owner. When no owner came forward, plans were made to transport the dog to the Beaver County Humane Society. At about 12:00 Noon, officers opened the kennel to re-attach the leash and transport the dog. A witness reports that the officer was acting “nonchalantly” so as not to frighten the animal. The dog retreated from the ofﬁcer. The ofﬁcer put out his hand to calm the dog and allow it to smell the ofﬁcer. The dog bared its teeth, growled, snapped at the ofﬁcer’s hand, and moved towards the officer. As the ofﬁcer retreated from the kennel, the dog lunged at the ofﬁcer, snapped at his legs and bit his knee. Several officers then attempted to use a dog pole/snare to remove the dog from the kennel but the dog retreated into a back corner of the kennel. Using the dog pole in that position was unsafe. The ofﬁcers decided to leave the dog in the kennel for a while so she would calm down before they tried to remove her again.
At about 12:32 pm, the dog got out of the kennel and was wandering around the kennel area. The dog walked back into the kennel by itself. An ofﬁcer went to retrieve the dog pole to push the kennel door closed. The dog charged out of kennel, barking, and went straight for the ofﬁcer. The ofﬁcer back peddled as fast as he could to avoid being mauled. The dog jumped at the ofﬁcer, the ofﬁcer, still running backwards, pulled his ﬁrearm and shot the dog as it jumped at him, mere inches from the ofﬁcer.
There is no video of the actual kennel. Most camera views are blocked by parked police cars.
Two cameras do show the attack on the ofﬁcer.
– An outside camera from the Magistrate’s Ofﬁce shows the officer walking around his patrol car, on his cell phone, for several minutes. At about 12:32:55, you can see that the ofﬁcer sees that the dog is out of its kennel. He moves behind the cruiser towards the kennel. At 12:33:00, the ofﬁcer comes from behind the cruiser. The ofﬁcer is back-peddling as fast as he can being chased by the dog, and shoots the dog as it jumps up at him. in the top of the frame, you see a second ofﬁcer and a female witness walking out of the police station garage. They stop, clearly become frightened of the dog, and retreat into the garage as it attacks the ﬁrst ofﬁcer.
– A camera inside the police station garage shows the second ofﬁcer and a witness walking out of the garage towards the kennel area to see the dog. The ofﬁcer and the witness clearly see the dog in attack mode. They become frightened and retreat back into the garage to get away from the dog. In the edge of the frame you see the dog almost on top of the ofﬁcer as he shoots in self-defense.
While the police were making arrangements to transport the carcass to the Humane Society, it was seen to still be alive. The police called the Humane Society and a Vet for advice on where to take the dog for treatment. They were told to euthanize the dog.
Witness statements, police reports, and video clearly establish that the dog became aggressive and attacked the ofﬁcer. He ﬁred in self-defense.
There will no criminal charges filed in this matter.
I will return the video to the Ambridge Borough Solicitor and authorize them to release the video at their discretion.
David J. Lozier