COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho >> An Idaho city has agreed to pay $80,000 after a police officer shot and killed a dog inside a parked van.
The Coeur d’Alene City Council on Tuesday approved the settlement with the dog’s owner, Craig Jones. Jones initially sought $350,000 in a claim filed in October.
“This was a regrettable event that the city has taken complete responsibility for,” Mayor Steve Widmyer said in a statement. “I want to again extend our apologies to Mr. Jones.”
An officer responding to a report of a suspicious van on July 9 shot through a partially opened window and killed the 2-year-old black Labrador mix named Arfee after police said the dog lunged at the officer. Jones was in a nearby coffee shop. Police in a statement later that day described the dog as a “vicious pit bull.”
Jones’ attorney, Adam Karp, said the settlement is the largest he’s aware of in the Pacific Northwest involving the wrongful killing of a dog by police. He said the city’s decision to settle indicated a realization by officials they faced a “sound defeat” if the case went to trial.
Jones was seeking damages that accounted for Arfee as well as emotional distress. At the time of the filing, Karp also said the amount included the “psychic totaling” of the vehicle as Jones would be reminded of what happened every time he got into the van.
A “Use of Deadly Force Review Board” and an external review committee found that Officer David Kelley violated police policy when he opened fire.
“The potential for injury to citizens, including a potential suspect in the vehicle, does not appear to have been factored in to the decision prior to using deadly force,” officials concluded.
Kelly, who has 17 years of law enforcement experience, in October had his pay reduced by $3.15 to $31.02 per hour. Police Chief Lee White has previously said that he is prohibited from talking about employee discipline.