A police officer from Bellingham was cleared in the fatal shooting of a German Shepard / Siberian husky mix breed, in the month of October, it happened during an investigation into a theft in the Puget neighborhood.
Police officials said that the officer concerned, Andrew Wassel, shot the 80-pound mix breed dog as it came towards him just outside an apartment around the 1300th block of Orleans Street, not too far south of Civic Stadium.
Also there, when all this happened, was officer Clark Bourgault, both the officer’s testimony and their body cameras footage were released to the public.
As well as witness statements, their accounts were upheld and the dog was shot because it appeared like he was going to attack the officers, Lt. Danette Beckley said on Wednesday in a public news release.
He said in the release: – “The owner stated that her dog was ‘protecting her’ when it ran toward Officer Wassel” – “The owner and Officer Wassel both described the dog as having the hair (or fur) on its back standing up, baring its teeth, while barking and growling as it charged toward Officer Wassel.”
The officer fired a single shot up close, it killed the dog and the dog could be heard to be whimpering on the video footage.
Beckly recounted that it all began as they went to the apartment about 6 pm to question the residents, it was part of an ongoing investigation into a theft at a nearby store, detail of the investigation could not be released.
When the officer arrived there, where it all happened, they split up to cover back and front entrances, as a man answered the front door a woman quickly tried to escape out of the back door.
One of the Officers body cameras shows the man at the front door saying that the dog is friendly. You can hear the dog barking! The sound of a gunshot is then heard…
The video then shows Bourgault coming back toward the rear of the apartment to check on Wassel, who is standing close to the dead dog.
“While Officer Wassel is attempting to contact the female, the dog turns and begins charging toward him”
“The dog takes an aggressive stance, barks, growls, and bares its teeth at the officer. Officer Wassel begins moving backwards to create distance between himself and the dog. The dog continues aggressively charging at Officer Wassel. Based on his reasonable belief that the dog was about to attack him, Officer Wassel draws his service weapon and fires one round to stop the dog from attacking him.”
Some of the video was a spilt-screen which show Wassel’s and Bourgault’s body camers in real time.
A formal review is required, said Beckley, each time an officer is required to shoot his firearm. He said that the departmental review board are happy that Wassel acted appropriately and in line with his training.
No action was taken on Wassel and no training was required, Beckley said.