A Mississippi man who helped out a neighbor by alerting him to a suspicious lurker outside of his home ended up having his yellow Labrador retriever shot by a cop investigating the scene.
The dog, Miller, was on a leash when a Cleveland, Miss. police investigator shot him, according to Tyler and Bethany Muzzi. The dog’s owners also said that the investigator initially claimed that the 1-year-old yellow lab tried to attack him and that he didn’t know he was leashed. But Cleveland’s police chief later admitted that the officer knew Miller was restrained but that he was still within his rights to shoot.
Tyler Muzzi was getting ready to head into work shortly after 1 p.m. last Friday when he saw a suspicious man outside of his neighbor’s house. Muzzi called the neighbor, Bryant Steele, who then called police.
Officers arrived quickly and began searching for the suspect. After catching and arresting the man, Muzzi went back into his house thinking everything had been settled.
But things only got worse for the Muzzis and their beloved pet.
“Tyler walked back inside and heard two gunshots,” Bethany Muzzi described on Facebook. “Thinking the [suspect] got away he went outside and all of the officers were standing around casually and said ‘hey man is that your dog?'”
“Apparently the investigator had arrived and walked back to the backyard without asking the other officers whether or not there was a dog.”
She said that as the investigator walked up, Miller ran over to him. Feeling threatened, the investigator shot Miller, Muzzi said.
“Miller was in the backyard on a line the whole time and none of the other officers ever expressed a concern for him or Tyler could have put him in our pen,” she wrote.
After Miller was shot, the officers stood around Miller as he whimpered, according to the Muzzis. Tyler Muzzi ran inside to get towels to wrap around the dog to take him to the vet. An hour after dropping Miller off, the vet called back saying that the bullets had severed his spine and that he would have to be put down.
“We thought by having our year and a half old lab puppy in our backyard on a line, he was safe,” Bethany Muzzi wrote. “We just want justice for our baby!”
“He said my dog tried to attack him on the line and was vicious,” Tyler Muzzi told The Clarion-Ledger. “I repeated over and over that I didn’t understand. He was attached to a line. He said he didn’t see the line when he saw Miller, he said Miller was rushing towards him.”
But the investigator’s claim has been called into question, and by his own police chief. According to The Clarion-Ledger, Chief Charles Bingham admitted that the investigator was aware that Miller was on a line but that he was within his rights to defend himself. Bingham offered to pay vet bills and to buy a new dog for the Muzzi’s.
“That was like a slap in the face,” Tyler Muzzi told The Clarion-Ledger.
Bingham did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for additional comment.
The investigator who shot Miller was placed on administrative leave. The Muzzis say they are considering suing the police department. In the meantime, they’ve struggled to explain to their young daughter what happened to Miller.
“We told her he was run over,” Bethany Muzzi wrote to friends Facebook. “We wanted to preserve her innocence in knowing that policemen are here to protect us. (Which we strongly believe!).”
“We don’t know if lying to her was the right thing to do, but as a parent you want to protect your child and sometimes that means hiding evil in the world.”