Officer Rodney Price, a one-year veteran of the Anne Arundel County Police Department, was investigating a burglary in the 900 block of Lombardee Circle in Glen Burnie, Maryland on February 1, 2014.
Officer Price was canvassing the neighborhood looking for a witness at around 4 p.m. He said he was “confronted” by Michael Reeves’ dog, Vernon, a 4 year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, in their yard.
The Reeves family was not involved in the burglary investigation. Officer Price knocked on their door, but no one answered. He claims he was attacked by the dog as he left. There were no witnesses.
Officer Price said Vernon barked and ran toward him in the front yard. The dog was shot twice at point-blank range, once in the sternum and once in the side. The body of the dog was found next to the porch
Officer Price admitted that he did not take any steps to try to avoid killing the dog.
The jury found that Officer Price was not justified in the shooting, violated the dog owner’s constitutional rights, and the committed with gross negligence. According to lawyers for the owner:
The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well. Shooting Vern was senseless, unnecessary and unconstitutional.”
Price was put on paid leave during the investigation, but cleared of wrongdoing because he said the dog was aggressive.
During the three-day trial, Price admitted that the dog did not bite him or otherwise injure him before the shooting. The owner called the death a “murder” by a “one year rookie police officer.”
Neighbor Howard Seltzer told CBS Local, “I’ve never heard him growl. He’d bark but I never heard him go after anybody. He was a beautiful animal.”