An off-duty Tacoma police officer working a security detail at a local store shot a pit bull that tried to bite him Wednesday, and the owner now faces criminal charges.
The 33-year-old transient was arraigned Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court on one count of second-degree assault and two counts of third-degree assault. His bail was set at $7,500, and he was ordered to not have dogs without a court order permitting him to do so.
According to charging documents and Tacoma police:
The off-duty officer was in uniform while working at a grocery store in the 4500 block of South 19th Street on Wednesday when he saw a man he thought might be casing a parked car for items to steal.
The officer approached the man and told him to leave the area and not come back. The man left in a hurry.
A bit later, the officer saw the man had returned to the parking lot, parking in a far corner where customers seldom park. This time, a second man was talking with him.
The officer came over and told the first man that if he came back to the store a third time, he would be arrested for trespassing. The man left.
But the officer saw the second man was drinking a beer and had a straw used to take drugs in his pocket. He asked for the second man’s ID. He said he had none. The officer asked for his name. The man instead took his pit bull, Monster, out of his car, holding onto its leash.
Monster jumped at the officer, biting the air and barking. The officer told the man to put the dog back into the car.
Instead, the man let go of the leash, and Monster charged at the officer. The dog bit at the officer’s leg, but did not break the skin.
The officer fired his gun twice, striking Monster once in the neck. The dog backed off, and the man controlled him and put him back in the car.
The man apologized to the officer and said the dog was aggressive toward police. When animal control officers arrived, they recognized Monster from a fight last month.
The dog was seized by animal control and taken in for surgery. He is expected to survive.