CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) K-9 Unit say a frame by frame review of the body cam video of an officer involved shooting shows the police dog did exactly what he was supposed to do.
The video shows how the incident unfolded back in January.
Robbery suspect Michael Kelley could be heard on body cam video telling K-9 Officer Timothy Kiefer “I’m going to shoot you.”
Despite commands from Officer Kiefer to Kelley to get down on the ground, Kelley ran toward the officer.
The officer can be seen walking backwards to his vehicle and opening the driver's side back door.
“Officer Kiefer felt that he should try a less lethal option and he released the dog - hoping to deter any further advancement from Mr. Kelley" said Sgt Brian Russell.
Baco - a German Shepherd on duty with CMPD for about four years - didn't run to the suspect.
“The way the dogs are trained – we can’t have a dog that just gets out of the car and makes a decision upon themselves to make an apprehension or bite whoever would have happen to be in the area,” said Sgt. Russell. “So what we train the dogs to do is immediately upon exiting the car they’re supposed to go to the handler for direction and that’s exactly what the dog did.”
But as Baco ran to his handler for directions, Kelley kept running toward the officer forcing the officer to back up. Police say Baco never saw the suspect.
“Officer Kiefer had to put distance between himself and Mr. Kelley,” said Sgt. Russell. “Baco actually followed to get directions from Officer Kiefer. So that's what you saw - the dog running with Officer Kiefer, facing Officer Kiefer to get directions.”
Police say Baco was not spooked by gunshots because K-9 handlers, as part of their training with the dogs, fire rounds to get the dogs used to the sound of gunshots.
Police say Officer Kiefer was finally able to shout commands to Baco.
“We slowed the video way down and you can actually see the dogs reacting to that gunfire along with the command, however, due to Mr. Kelley I guess his place in the parking lot the dog never visually saw Mr. Kelley so he really didn’t have an opportunity to acquire the person that he was supposed to bite and go to him until Mr. Kelley was on the ground.”
Police say the incident unfolded in seconds.
“I want to say it was 13 to 14 seconds from the time the dog got out of the car till he actually bit Mr. Kelley so you’re talking about this transpired in just a very, very quick short period of time,” said Sgt. Russell. “In looking at it – there’s no way to train a dog in that situation to respond any differently than the way the dog did.”