On April 10th, Deputy John Tolle of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office responded to what turned out to be a false panic alarm at a residence in Pahrump, NV. (Located just Northwest of Las Vegas.) Soon after Deputy Tolle entered the fenced in yard of that residence and knocked on the door, he shot the pet dog of the owner. According to Tolle, that dog, a pit bull named Blu, was barking, growling, and attacking him at the time. So, obviously he had no choice but to shoot it.
However, Deputy Tolle was wearing a body camera at the time and the footage from that camera tells a completely different story. While the dog does come running from the back of the house much like any dog would when a stranger enters its yard, it never appears to attack Tolle or even try to on the video. Rather than charging toward him “full on, growling and snarling,” as he described, the dog’s action would more properly be described as a quick jog without any sort of aggression being shown at all.
In addition to the discrepancies in Tolle’s description of the shooting of the dog, the body camera footage also highlights numerous issues with the way he responded to the call from the start. Had Deputy Tolle followed proper procedure regarding those issues, he would have never been in a position to shoot Blu in the first place. Among other things, Tolle never tried to contact the owner, Gary Miller, prior to entering the gate of the fence surrounding the yard. Nor does he check first to find out if there is a dog within that yard. Both of those precautions would have prevented any perceived confrontation with Blu from happening.
Furthermore, once the dog was approaching Deputy Tolle he never attempted to use any non lethal deterrents prior to shooting it. As of 2015, state mandated (NRS 289.595) law enforcement training is required to include a course on how to handle situations involving encounters with dogs. Part of that training is that non-lethal methods, such as tasers, batons, or mace, be used prior to resorting to deadly force. Tolle had every one of those options available at the time and never even attempted to use them. There was even enough time after the dog had initially barked for Tolle to simply walk back out of the gate, had he chose to do so. Instead, he just shot the dog and then lied about it attacking him to try and justify having done so.
This video is also pretty telling in relation to the mindset and attitudes of the officers involved. Beyond the simple act of unnecessarily killing the dog and then lying to rationalize it, Deputy Tolle’s body camera also caught a few other things afterwards. First, as an unnamed detective and Tolle’s supervisor, Sergeant Deutsch, discuss the shooting with him, they can be heard making disparaging remarks about Miller and joking about him being angry because his dog was shot.
Deputy Tolle really takes the cake when he is informed that he will have to fill out a “use of force” form for the incident. His response is to break out in laughter and state, “Maybe I’ll get time off now!” It’s almost like getting a free paid vacation is in the forefront of police officers’ minds when they kill.
In the end, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office quickly cleared Deputy Tolle after assigning him to take a 24 hour training course (that presumably teaches cops not to murder non-threatening dogs). Meanwhile, Gary Miller was disrespected even more when the animal shelter cremated his beloved pet without even notifying him first. They then added insult to injury later when they brought him ashes that they claimed were Blu’s, but that were in fact not from his dog. (It’s not clear where the “fake ashes” actually came from. However, unlike Tolle, the animal control officer responsible has been suspended, as a result.)
Full Unedited Body Camera Video
Local News Coverage
Kelly is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
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