MANSFIELD, Texas - A Mansfield couple wants answers after their dog was shot and killed by an off-duty officer.
Mansfield police say the couple's Great Dane lunged at the off-duty officer aggressively. But the couple says the dog didn't charge and didn't deserve death.
The shooting happened Sunday around 7:15 p.m. The Mansfield PD officer was off-duty at the time and out walking his own dog in the 4200 block of Iron Drive.
The officer told police a Great Dane came charging at him from across the street. He said he yelled at the dog to get back but it continued to act aggressively.
“He stated that he was ultimately forced to shoot the dog because he believed an attack was imminent,” police said in a statement.
However, the Great Dane’s owners dispute the officer’s claims. Carol Evans and Jeff Wempa were at the police station Tuesday to demand answers. They want to find out why Caesar was shot.
“He's known this family for 20 years, known my daughter since she was 2,” Evans said. “He used to patrol my street and come over talk to me all the time."
The couple argued their dog Cesar did not charge the officer. They admit he got out of the back door and should have been on a leash but said he wasn’t aggressive.
Evans says Caesar got out of the house, and she saw him barking at the officer's dog. Mansfield police say the off-duty officer called police to the scene. He told officers the Great Dane charged him aggressively from across the street and did not respond when he yelled at the dog to get away.
The couple talked with internal affairs officers, although Mansfield has turned the investigation to the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.
“I just wanted to stress the fact an off-duty officer discharged his firearm with children at play here in the cul-de-sac and adults and my wife being three feet away from my dog,” Wempa said.
Police said the officer has a license to carry permit and fired the shots with his own personal handgun.
Mansfield police have not publically identified the officer but say he's being treated as any citizen would who's involved in a similar circumstance. Police says he works in the support division which provides court security, serves warrants and transports prisoners.
"Sometimes my daughter and Caesar walk down that way, and he'll be walking down this way with his dog, exchange hellos,” Evans said. “No rhyme or reason. Don't know why he did it. It’s flabbergasting to me."
The family put the dog in a car and took him to the veterinarian, but the Great Dane later died.
Mansfield PD’s internal affairs department is investigating. Sheriff’s office investigators are also expected to go door-to-door in the neighborhood to interview witnesses. The sheriff's office says they'll release what they know when the investigation is finished.