Santa Cruz police shoot dog during arrest near Santa Cruz's DeLaveaga Park

Officer: Officer Ron Inouye
Charge: excessive force
Date: May 12, 2011
Location: DeLaveaga Park, Santa Cruz

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
SANTA CRUZ -- Santa Cruz police shot and killed a dog Thursday during the arrest of a parolee in the woods near upper DeLaveaga Park, police said.

Two officers were investigating complaints of homeless campers and aggressive dogs about 2:30 p.m., when they came upon a campsite of a parolee known to be aggressive toward police, Deputy Chief Steve Clark said.

The officers were on a narrow trail when the 75-pound, male Rottweiler mix came at them, Clark said.

The lead officer was hampered by two large trees on either side of him, he said.

"He essentially had no other option and nowhere to retreat," he said. "Officers had seen the dog's owner and pleaded with the owner to pull the dog off, and the dog continued coming at the officer in a very aggressive way, literally running and lunging at the officer."

The camper and dog owner, 47-year-old Paul Boulerice, was arrested on suspicion of violating his parole and possessing a dangerous weapon, Clark said. The weapon found at his campsite was a billy club fashioned from a bike handle with custom lead weights on it, he said.

Officer Ron Inouye, a five-year veteran who Clark said loves dogs and has experience training them, shot the dog.

"It really is an unfortunate set of circumstances," he said. "He was convinced that was his only option."

Boulerice is on parole for making threats to an officer and for trying to take an officer's gun during a fight, Clark said. He has a history of drug-related arrests.

His family once owned The Impossible Restaurant on Soquel Avenue, he said.

"Mr. Boulerice had an opportunity to call his dog off and could have tied him up in the area," he said.

The area is off Brookwood Drive on the inland side of Highway 1 and snakes up around the south side of DeLaveaga Park, and slopes down to a creek that is the city limit, Clark said.

Less than lethal options such as pepper spray or a Taser or a baton have a limited effect to immediately stop dogs, Clark said.

Todd Stosuy
, who manages the animal control portion of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, said officer-involved shootings of dogs have occurred "every once in a while" since he started in the county eight years ago.

County shelter workers went out to retrieve the dog's body, Stosuy said.

"If there is an officer-involved shooting, they do their own internal investigation to see if the level of force was justified," he said. "We hold onto the animal for them and transport it to the vet if a necropsy is necessary."

To prevent such encounters, he said anyone approached by law enforcement should make sure their dog is on a leash. And if an owner knows the dog has a propensity to attack or bite, it should be muzzled, Stosuy said.

"Those really are the keys," he said. "Definitely if you are someone on probation or parole, and you are dealing with law enforcement, you should make sure your animal is properly contained. The police and sheriff's deputies don't want to shoot animals, but they have to make sure to protect themselves."

On April 14, a sheriff's deputy shot a 5-month-old, 57-pound bull terrier to death when it and a second dog, an adult pit bull mix, came out the front door of a Boulder Creek condo during a probation search aimed at 48-year-old Lonni Locatelli. Deputies say the dogs were bearing their teeth and refused to halt when doused with pepper spray. The puppy, Sheeba, died at a veterinarian's office. Locatelli said the dog was only barking.

Police often claim that arrestees have a history of violence or claim that they resisted arrest or even assaulted officers.

Additionally, police frequently use a "weapons" charge (almost always later dropped) as a pretense for an arrest, search and more serious charges. Though the charge would seem to imply that criminals are packing machine guns, these "weapons" often turn out to be bike u-locks, walking sticks, legal pocketknives leathermen tools, or even a water bottle. 


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