Report: Dog charged police, prompting gunfire in wrong home

AP News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2015 5:25 PM
Report: Dog charged police, prompting gunfire in wrong home

ATLANTA (AP) — A dog charged police officers who entered the wrong Atlanta home searching for a burglar, prompting gunfire that seriously wounded an officer, injured the homeowner and killed the animal, according to a police report released Thursday.

Three DeKalb County police officers entered the rear of a house Monday around 7:30 p.m. after a 911 caller reported seeing a possible burglar, according to police and the caller. However, the officers lacked an exact address and entered the wrong home, leading to a dangerous confrontation.

Officer Benjamin Penrosse, who was not present at the shooting, wrote that homeowner Christopher McKinley, 36, "burst out of a closed door" with a pit bull that charged the officers. The report said multiple people opened fire. Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials have said that police killed the dog and shot McKinley in the leg, and that Officer Travis Jones was "likely' struck by police gunfire, causing a serious wound to his hip.

No officials have suggested that McKinley was carrying a gun.

The report does not make clear Penrosse's connection to the case or whether he wrote the report based on the accounts of officers who were present that night.

The Associated Press requested a copy of the police report using Georgia's open records laws. DeKalb police declined to publicly release other documents related to the ongoing investigation into the shooting. McKinley did not return messages seeking comment.

It was not clear Thursday how much weight to give the initial report. DeKalb police turned over the investigation to the GBI shortly after the shooting. GBI spokesman Scott Dutton said there is no evidence that McKinley or anyone else in the house did anything illegal. DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander has acknowledged the officers entered the wrong home.

And some details in the report were inconsistent with other accounts. The officer misspelled the homeowner's name. Contrary to the police report, one neighbor said McKinley owned a boxer, not a pit bull.

The personnel files for the three officers involved in the shooting mention only one instance of discipline over use of force. Officer Timothy Harden was ordered suspended without pay for eight hours in May as punishment for using unnecessary force during an arrest on Nov. 6, 2014.

Interim Police Chief James Conroy wrote that Harden was observed during a traffic stop pulling up a suspect from the ground and pushing him into the rear of Harden's patrol vehicle.

"You then opened the back door and pushed the suspect into the backseat, causing him to hit his head on the upper door frame," Conroy wrote. "That action was unnecessary."

Harden could not be reached for comment Thursday. It was not immediately clear who Harden had arrested or whether he appealed the punishment. Otherwise, Harden's superiors rated him as exceeding police department standards in his last annual review. He received several commendations since joining the department in 2010, including one in 2012 for helping catch a burglary suspect who was also wanted on murder charges.

All three officers — identified by the GBI as Harden, Travis Jones and Quhanna Lloyd — have been placed on administrative leave.

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Follow Ray Henry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rhenryAP.