Wayne State community members spent the week in a state of shock after a WSU Police Department officer opened fire on a family’s dog.
WSUPD was called to a townhouse in the Lester Morgan Cultural Gardens apartments for a routine wellness check on April 28 when the incident occurred.
In body cam footage obtained by The South End on Tuesday, the dog can be seen in the background as two officers approach the apartment complex. One of the officers notes, “watch that dog over there.”
Just moments after the officer issues a warning, the dog can be seen charging towards the other police officer, who promptly opens fire. The dog’s owner, 18-year-old Justin Fuller, can be seen from behind as the dog retreats.
The dog, a 55-pound Goldendoodle named Ace, was shot in the jaw but survived, according to Local 4 News.
According to reports from The Detroit News, the officer was cleared of wrongdoing after review of the body cam footage.
Communication Studies major Dillon Haynes said he feels the situation presents a conflict.
“If our Wayne State police force gets nervous and feels threatened around a… Goldendoodle, so much so that they feel the need to shoot it in its face point blank, then they should not be (on the) police force let alone one that is allowed to carry guns and have this type of power,” he said. “This is disgusting.”
Secondary Education major and former Student Senate Secretary Lukis Bagdon said they were in disbelief at the news.
“I live really close to the house where it happened, so I heard the shots and the owner screaming. Truthfully, I thought a person had been harmed. I was really shocked when the story broke,” Bagdon said. “The fact the officer reached for his gun when he thought a dog was charging at him is crazy.”
Police Chief Anthony Holt told The Detroit News he felt bad for the dog’s owners, but said the officer had no recourse.
WSUPD declined multiple requests for comment by TSE.
Fuller’s mother Robin Gamble, who lost her oldest son to gun violence, told the Detroit Free Press she plans to file a complaint against the WSUPD.
Gamble also said the police failed to help the family take care of Ace after the shooting.
Gamble took to her Facebook page on Thursday to express her anger surrounding the incident.
“A giant poodle’s not going to kill you. There (were) two officers. I think that when the officer said ‘watch the dog,’ maybe they could have done something else, like say ‘Hey sir, grab your dog.’ It happened within five seconds,” Gamble said in the video.
TSE attempted to reach Ace’s family throughout the week, but they were unresponsive.
Bagdon said they are afraid for the safety of other dogs.
“If you can't de-escalate a dog charging at you, that's an issue. I've seen the body cam footage, he also could've just ran… the fact he was such a bad shot is crazy. Two shots and you clip his jaw is wild to me,” Bagdon said. “There's a park right near that house. Many, many dogs go through there. I'm scared every time I see a dog now, because I'm worried for its safety.”
Madeline Beck is The South End's Editor-in-Chief. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Cover photo provided by Quinn Banks.