GREENACRES, Wash. - Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is defending the actions of one of his deputies who shot and killed a dog in Spokane Valley after the dog attacked him Wednesday evening.
Knezovich said Deputy Ryan Smith was trying to do the dog's owner a favor. Bradley Beck had dropped his cowboy hat and keys earlier in the week while walking through the neighborhood intoxicated, so Smith was returning those items Wednesday to his home.
When Smith went to his house and walked into Beck's yard he was confronted by Beck's dog Cash, who bit the deputy. The deputy tried to use a collapsible baton to fend off the dog, but after being knocked to the ground he fired his service weapon at the dog, killing Cash.
"I came after work and saw all the police officers here and pulled off the side of the road to see what was going on and I found out that my dog had been shot," Beck said.
Earlier this week someone spotted Beck stumbling around his neighborhood, near the intersection of Henry and Sprague in Greenacres, and called the sheriff's office.
"They locate the individual, he's highly intoxicated, deputies give him a ride home, courtesy ride home, at that point he goes into the house, that call's over," Knezovich said.
But the next day a neighbor finds Beck's keys and cowboy hat and takes those items to the Valley Precinct. Deputy smith, who was working the front desk, tried to call Beck on the phone.
"The deputy tries to get a hold of Mr. Beck, can't get a hold of him by phone, figures I'll just run this out to him to save them a trip to police evidence," Knezovich said.
Which is how Smith ended up in Beck's front yard.
Before that, however, he used his siren to get the homeowner's attention and failing in doing that Smith walked past several signs warning visitors to beware of dog. He then sees Cash is being restrained by an underground electric fence marked with a white line.
"He figures as long as he stays on the right side of the line, he'll be fine. He'll be able to drop the property off and leave," Knezovich said.
That's when Cash lunged at Smith, who tried to fend him off with a collapsible baton. A bite to the leg brings the deputy to the ground and a second bite leaves a pair of puncture wounds in Smith's bicep.
"Fortunately it wasn't his throat or face area; deputy had no choice but to pull his service revolver to get the dog off of him," Knezovich said.
Investigators say Smith fired three times.
Beck said by disregarding the warning signs the deputy created the situation where deadly force was necessary.
"It's posted plenty to show there are dogs on the property, they probably heard the dogs barking and that should be the first clue not to come down the driveway," Beck said.
The sheriff says his deputies see a large number of 'Beware of dog' signs but that can't stop them from doing their duties. Knezovich does not foresee disciplining Smith but plans a refresher course from SCRAPS on what to do and not do around dogs.
Knezovich added he's very sorry for Cash and his owner, who said he's lost the equivalent of a child, but he's also sorry for Deputy Smith, who's suffered some painful wounds and has to live with the fact that he killed someone's pet.