Wilfred Europe, deputy, not charged in Ziggy the dog's shooting, attorney frustrated
In January, we told you about the shooting of Ziggy, a border collie mix, by Wilfred Europe, an Adams County deputy seen here who'd previously shot another dog and a driver in separate incidents.
Big photos below.
Ziggy's owner, Jeff Fisher, maintains that the shooting was unjustified, but Dave Young, DA for the 17th Judicial District, will not charge Europe with a crime -- a choice that frustrates Fisher's attorney. But she sees hope in a proposed bill to require that officers undergo dog-related training.
When asked about Young's decision letter in the Europe case, the Animal Law Center's Jennifer Edwards says, "I'm not surprised, but of course, I'm disappointed." However, she adds, "it doesn't deter my client or anyone else from continuing to seek justice for Ziggy."
Here's how Edwards described what led to Ziggy's death in the days following the incident, which took place at around 8 p.m. January 14 near the intersection of 54th and Tennyson.
"My client...was working late," she told us. "He owns a commercial-door business and he had Ziggy with him, as he always did. Then he felt a breeze coming through the door, which was strange, because he knew the security gate was locked. He got up to close the door, but when he started to do it, an officer forced his way in and put him at gunpoint."
Fisher "immediately dropped to the ground," she continued, "and as he did, Ziggy slipped through the door. Jeff called out to him a couple of times, and on the second time, Ziggy started back -- and as soon as he did that, another officer outside pulled his weapon and shot Ziggy without any reason at all. Ziggy dropped after the first hit, so I'm not sure why he would have shot round two and round three."
This action shocked Fisher, Edwards noted. "He was distraught, sobbing, upset." But rather than offering any reassuring words, she quoted one of the officers as saying, "Tell him to calm down. He can get another dog."
In addition, Fisher was not allowed to "go to the dog and render any care, see if he was breathing, get him to a vet," Edwards maintained. "They told him to sit still, said he wasn't allowed to move or make any phone calls."
When Fisher was granted permission to check on Ziggy (he's unsure about how much time had passed, but feels it could have been twenty or thirty minutes), the dog was dead.
The kicker? The deputies were at the wrong address. "They were responding to an alarm going off a whole street block away," Edwards says. "They didn't even have a reason to be there. They busted in the door, came in unannounced, shot his dog, didn't apologize -- and they're not even at the right place."
From early on, authorities disputed numerous elements of the Fisher-Edwards account. For example, Donald Sisson, an attorney representing Europe, told CBS4 that the alarm originated from the same multi-business complex that housed Fisher's operation, and deputies were in the midst of searching the entire thing. He also said that Ziggy charged at Europe, barking, growling and snapping his teeth, and continued to pursue him as he backpedaled approximately 25 feet. Fearing he was going to be bitten, he fired twice -- not the three times mentioned by Edwards -- and killed Ziggy.
Photo by Diana Schele Ziggy.
Sisson also confirmed that Europe had shot another dog in the line of duty; the animal survived, and the deputy wasn't disciplined as a result of his actions. Likewise, he received no punishment after shooting and killing forty-year-old Don Cambron during a traffic stop last year. Cambron is said to have been reaching for a pellet gun after he was pulled over, prompting Europe to fire.
In his decision letter, Young didn't address Europe's previous experiences with gunplay, focusing instead on what happened the evening of the 14th from the viewpoints of Europe, Fisher and another deputy on the scene.
Continue for more about the death of Ziggy, including a video and the decision letter.