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10 Investigates: New video after officer shoots dog

7:27 AM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- We're seeing cell phone video obtained by 10 Investigates from the night a police officer opened fire on a dog.

And the couple who recorded that video tells us what police are saying about the shooting is not what really happened.

Joe Madrid and his girlfriend, Carmen Palmer, were walking to dinner Friday night when they approached two officers shouting at 21-year-old Kenneth McNeil.

"We saw them pointing flashlights in his face, like this," said Palmer.

"I have seen that guy and that dog before because I live down there in that area, and I have pet that dog and he is not aggressive or mean," said Madrid.

"They were harassing that guy and cussing at him and telling him to, 'Tie up your f-ing dog, tie up your f-ing mutt.'"

Then they said they watched McNeil look confused and start falling backward into the street toward them. They were across the street on 2nd Avenue and 4th Street outside of Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg.

"He was maybe six feet away from us," said Palmer. "He didn't even have time to give his leash to someone or anything, what was he going to do with his dog? I would have taken it, but then one of the officers jumped on him and the other one pointed his gun at the dog, and I thought what are they going to do, they better not hurt the dog!"

She said the dog did not threaten the officers.

"He perked up on his hind legs but not in a scary way. We were so close we saw everything," said Palmer. "It is still ingrained in my head. The leash was still tight. Whatever the police said about him letting go of the leash never, never happened. The leash was still tight, the dog was on his hind legs, and the officer started shooting at him.  He shot four times!"

She started crying while Madrid pulled out his cell phone and started recording the scene.

In the cell phone video, you can hear McNeil screaming his dog's name, Tazzy. You can hear Palmer crying. You can hear people shouting at the officers and the officers shouting at the people. 

"There were a lot of derogatory remarks yelled at the officers," said Madrid. 

"We were so disgusted with their behavior. It was the worst police brutality I have ever scene," said Palmer. "The police did not even take our statement right away. I have been calling them for two day, leaving messages, and they even told me not to show anyone the cell phone video that we have."

"I said, 'Yeah, right' when they told us not to share it with anyone," said Madrid. 

St. Petersburg police said McNeil let the leash loose and the dog turned to bite the officer, then the officer felt he had no choice to fire.

McNeil has been arrested several times in this park for disorderly conduct, according to police, and by law he now cannot be in Williams Park.

The officers knew that, so they approached him.

A police spokesman says McNeil ignored their orders to stop and was walking away from them when they "attempted to physically detain" him.

Police say internal affairs investigators are studying the case and have seen this video.

They also say there are several people who were in the park who back up the officers' descriptions of what happened.

In 2011, St. Petersburg officers shot and killed eight dogs. In 2012, they received more training. Police said the officer in question has received that training. 

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