:::: UPDATE :::: Here's what the MPD incident report says about Tito's shooting: "DOGS RAN AT OFFICER AND WOULD NOT STOP. DOG DISPATCHED BY OFFICER. SUPERVISOR AND ANIMAL CONTROL RESPONDED TO SCENE." The arrested party is a minor, so his name isn't public information.
:::: UPDATE II :::: The MPD sent us this statement about the incident:
Police officers are placed into situations where, at times, they must make immediate decisions based on only the facts that are present at that moment. The officers are mandated to make the decisions to preserve their own safety as well as the safety of others.We also asked the MPD for information about the number of dogs that have been shot by officers in recent years, but that data wasn't immediately available.
The decision to shoot, or harm, an animal is not made lightly, but at times must be made immediately. Officers have no way of knowing the history of the animal, or what the animal may do. Every threat must be taken seriously.
These are very sad and unfortunate incidents and ones that no one wants to occur.
Original post (July 21) -- Sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. Friday, Paul Thomas Trott let his dogs out of the north Minneapolis home near Aldrich Avenue and 39th Avenue he shares with his partner, Josh Lyczkowski.
Unbeknownst to both of them, the gate on their fence had been broken by a car theft suspect who had fled from cops through their yard shortly before, and the dogs, Tito and Vita, made their way into a nearby alley.
In the alley, Tito -- a nearly two-year-old, 120-pound Cane Corso -- approached an officer who was still hunting for the car theft suspect. The officer ended up opening fire and killing Trott and Lyczkowski's beloved dog.
"I ran out the door and was hollering for him," Trott tells us. "I didn't get halfway to the gate when you could hear the officer yell, 'Stop!' He just yelled 'Stop!' and shot him and that was it."
Trott, in shock, approached his dead dog, but he says police initially wouldn't let him get near the corpse.
"The only thing [cops] kept saying is, 'You weren't here, you don't know what's going on, you don't have time to discern pet from animal and in our mind they're just animals,'" Trott says. "It was, shoot first, think later. You know, I understand where they're at -- I worked four years for the Illinois Department of Corrections as a correctional officer. But [Tito] had a collar, tags, and he's clearly not a stray."
"Tito is gonna come after you, but he's not being aggressive -- he wants to play," Trott continues. "It's just wrong -- what if some kid was chasing their dog in this situation?"
"Tito isn't going to hurt anybody, he's a big playful puppy," Trott adds. "The cops says he lunged at him. He doesn't lunge."
Trott says the MPD officer who shot Tito is D.R. Mattson, badge number 4486, adding that his neighbor told him she saw the whole thing.
(For more, click to page two.)
"She heard us calling for Tito and told me Josh was within eyesight of the officer when he fired," Trott says. "She was stunned that the officer wouldn't have waited for Josh to get to Tito instead of firing his weapon."
We contacted MPD spokesman John Elder Saturday afternoon to get the department's version of events. He said he'd have to wait until this morning to pull the reports but would get back to us with more information. We haven't heard back as this is published.
On Facebook, Lyczkowski wrote, "I am outraged that this is how our officers of the law are trained to deal with pets."
"I am angry that our tax dollars go towards giving these agencies and their officers permission to shoot to kill our companion animals," he continued. "This officer murdered our dog AFTER the fleeing suspect had been caught and arrested [Trott later told us he wasn't totally sure whether Tito was shot before or after the suspect was apprehended]. This was a completely avoidable situation."
"You can [argue] that this might have been a high stress situation for them, but I disagree," Lyczkowski added. "What normal person initially reacts to shooting a dog that is approaching them? Tito was an overly gentle and compassionate dog, there was ABSOLUTELY NO SIGNS OF AGGRESSION coming from him."
Lyczkowski acknowledged that the car theft suspect "is partly responsible," but also pinned blame on Officer Mattson.
(For more, click to page three.)
"You have to FEAR for your pet's life when you take them outside, because the people WE pay to PROTECT and SERVE US will murder your dog if it is accidentally unattended," Lyczkowski wrote. "Nothing can bring our Tito back, but we can hope that with enough public support something can be done to prevent this from happening to another family's pet."
Trott, for his part, wrote on Facebook, "But hey, [cops] brought the piece of shit thug that broke our gate open to apologize...thanks?"
Asked what recourse he and his partner will take, Trott says, "We are most definitely going to pursue some reimbursement. Tito is not an inexpensive dog."
"But it's not about the money," Trott continues. "It's just about getting some attention to this issue. [Cops] need to get control over what they're doing. When looking at domestic animals -- peoples' companions -- shoot first, think later isn't a good approach."