ELKHART COUNTY – An Elkhart County police officer shot a dog to death early Saturday afternoon. He claims the animal was charging at him, but the owner says that's not the case.
Police went to the house in the 14000 block of County Road 36 to investigate a minor traffic incident that occurred earlier in the day. But before the officer got to the door, he shot and killed the family pet.
At the quiet country home east of Goshen, you can seldom hear anything but the wind blowing through the trees. But that peace and quiet was shattered by the bullet from the gun of an Elkhart County sheriff's deputy.
The aftermath was caught on a cellphone video. You can hear a friend of the dog owner asking why the dog was shot and the police officer replying that the dog had attacked him. The officer then asks if he should leave and the homeowner tells him yes.
"It's a family member and to just see something like that is something you're just not going to forget," said the owner of the dog, Josh Bender, "My dog's name was Charlie. He was a red heeler lab mix dog. He was a pretty cool little guy. He loved to play fetch. He was always playing fetch, always."
Bender watched as Charlie died from a gunshot. Only minutes earlier he was sitting down to eat lunch when he heard his two dogs barking in his driveway. His wife told him a police officer was pulling up. But before Josh could walk outside, Charlie had been shot.
"I was just getting ready to come out the door and I heard a pop," Bender said, "I looked out the door and saw my dog flailing around here with blood everywhere and a police officer standing there with a look on his face like 'what did I do?'"
The Benders live about a quarter mile off of CR 36 and the officer, Mike Daly, had to drive the entire way down their driveway to their house. According to the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department, Daly had first observed the dogs to be friendly, but shortly after they became aggressive. As he tried to back up to his car, he claims one of the dogs charged – that's when he shot it.
Although Bender didn't see what happened, he says Charlie wasn't aggressive and was typically a playful dog.
"That dog is the best dog that we've ever had, as that goes, he's never attacked anyone and he's around everybody," Bender said. "Why didn't he just call the house or wait for me to come out if he was scared? Just a really sad situation, it could have been totally avoided if he would have just thought about it."
According to the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department, Daly is a veteran officer. The sheriff's department says they have a protocol for this type of thing. The department says it is investigating the incident and is taking it very seriously.