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East Cleveland couple says officer 'overreacted' when he shot their family dog

Owner cited for animal at large
Dog shot by East Cleveland police
Posted at 4:03 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 19:00:10-04

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — An East Cleveland couple said police "overreacted" when they shot the family's dog outside their home early Saturday morning.

Jerome Bryant and his wife Vanessa said they called police around 4:30 a.m. after a man showed up on the front porch claiming someone was trying to kill him.

Body camera captured one of the responding officers get out of his car, then order the dog to sit as it came toward him as the officer backed away.

The video showed the officer then fired one shot and the dog ran off.

"I wasn't taking the risk of getting bit," the officer said on the recording.

But the Bryants deny their 3-year-old pit bull terrier "Chubbs" was aggressive toward the officer.

"I can understand somebody being scared of Chubbs," said Jerome Bryant. "He's a big dog. That's understandable. But he was not being aggressive."

The couple said the 60 pound dog was shot in the face.

Making matters worse, they said, Jerome Bryant was issued a citation for having an animal at large.

"I think they were trying to cover themselves," said Vanessa Bryant. "Just to justify what they did."

On the body camera recording, an officer is heard saying Bryant has be cited, "otherwise we just shot his dog for no [expletive] reason."

East Cleveland's police chief said officers were just following procedure when they issued the ticket.

"Generally when force is used, some sort of enforcement action should be taken," said Chief Scott Garnder.

Law enforcement and security expert Tim Dimoff reviewed the body camera video and said he believes both the shooting and citation were justified.

"In today's day and age if the officer didn't charge the individual it would have setup a potential lawsuit against the officer and police department which could have been looked at more seriously in court against the officer and the department because the question would have come up why didn't you charge him if they did something wrong," said Dimoff.

The Bryants said their dog was only outside after pushing past Jerome as he went inside to get his ID for police.

Now, faced with thousands of dollars in vet bills and an upcoming court date, the couple has a message to other dog owners.

"Regardless if it's a big dog or small dog, put it up," said Vanessa Bryant.

"Save yourself this," said Jerome Bryant holding his citation.

The couple said their dog is expected to recover and a GoFundMe account has been created to help with vet bills and recovery costs.

They plan to fight the citation in court.