HARTFORD — The Vermont Attorney General’s Office says it has completed its review into a June 25, 2016, incident in Hartford, in which an off-duty Hartford police officer shot and killed a dog. No criminal charges will be filed arising out of this incident.
According to a statement issued by the Attorney General’s Office, the investigation established that on June 25, 2016, officer Logan Scelza was at the Watson Upper Valley Dog Park with his two huskies, Kato and Echo. Also at the park was Cheryl Gray with Justin Demers’ pit bull, Diesel.
The Watson Upper Valley Dog Park is owned and governed by the Town of Hartford and is an enclosed area specifically for dogs and their owners.
Kato, Echo and Diesel were all off leash in the large dog section of the park. At some point, Kato and Echo approached a picnic table near Diesel. Kato growled at Diesel and the dogs began fighting, with Diesel biting and latching onto Kato’s neck. Scelza intervened in an attempt to break up the fight and get Diesel to release Kato. He tried pulling the dogs apart and repeatedly struck Diesel. Scelza’s efforts were unsuccessful.
After failing to break up the fight with physical force, Scelza fired multiple warning shots near the dogs using his service weapon in an attempt to startle them. These efforts were unsuccessful.
Scelza then struck Diesel again, but Diesel did not release Kato’s neck.
At this point, Scelza had a clear shot at Diesel and fired his weapon at the dog. Diesel was struck multiple times and killed. At all times Scelza fired his weapon, there was no one in front of him or in his general vicinity.
Scelza fired a total of seven rounds during the incident.
Kato was brought to a local veterinary’s office for treatment of injuries to the throat that included a laceration requiring sutures and two perforations.
Vermont law prohibits killing another person’s animal without obtaining legal authority or consent.
However, Vermont law also provides that a person is legally authorized to kill a domestic pet such as a dog that is attacking another animal “when the attendant circumstances are such that the killing is reasonably necessary to prevent injury” to the animal being attacked.
Under the facts of this case, the Attorney General’s Office says that Scelza was reasonable in his belief that killing Diesel was reasonably necessary to prevent injury to his dog.
Scelza used a variety of non-lethal options prior to resorting to the use of his firearm.
Under those circumstances, Scelza’s decision to use deadly force was reasonable and justified.
Furthermore, they say the use of deadly force did not place any other person in actual danger of death or serious bodily injury. Under all of these circumstances, no charges will be filed.