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Terre Haute Police responds to viral video of officer and dog encounter

Despite the viral post's claims, police said they were not called to a report of a burglary, and that the 22-second clip doesn't show the entire incident.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The Terre Haute Police Department is responding to the viral Ring video that has been shared across social media, reportedly showing an encounter between a sergeant and a dog.

The department shared a lengthy response on its Facebook page Thursday, shortly before 10:30 a.m., after receiving many messages on the incident.

On Tuesday afternoon, Haley Richey tweeted a 22-second video from her Ring doorbell and said, "Yesterday evening while my family and I were at work, someone broke into my home. My dogs ran the intruder off. This was the response shortly after a neighbor called. My home needed help and all it received was hurt. #AnimalCruelty."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the video has been retweeted more than 2,000 times and has 5,000 likes. 13News was also made aware of the post on other social media platforms.

WARNING: The video shared by Haley Richey is graphic and may be disturbing. 

However, police said they were not called to the 1700 block of Ohio Street on a report of a burglary, despite claims from the viral post. Instead, police said they responded to the home on a report of an aggressive pit bull that had been “charging at everyone that goes by. RP (reporting person) advised that he has bitten a child and a mailman in the past and is very very aggressive.”

Police said they looked into previous incidents and found that officers were called to the same home on May 2, 2020, around 7:50 p.m. In this case, a woman that lives at the home said her 11-year-old daughter left the gate open, and the dog got out and bit the girl. The woman was cited for failure to restrain a dog resulting in bite or attack.

According to police, the Ring video shared on social media shows 76 seconds of officers entering the porch to try and make contact with the dog owners; however, the body camera footage shows 1 hour, 13 minutes of time for the call.

Police shared 3 minutes, 46 seconds of body camera footage on its Facebook page.

WARNING: The video shared by the Terre Haute Police Department is graphic and may be disturbing.

At 1 minute, 3 seconds, the white pit bull and brown dog run at the officer, who's approaching the home. He repeatedly tells the dogs to "Get away from me."

Then, the officer speaks to a female neighbor about the dogs.

"They about got shot. They're aggressive," the officer is heard saying to the neighbor, after she said they are not her dogs.

At 3 minutes, 31 seconds, the officer goes to the porch in line with the Ring video. The brown dog is on the porch and begins barking at the officer. The officer said, "Do you want to bite?," to which the dog runs off the porch.

In the Facebook post, police said the footage also shows the officer pointing to an opening in the fence where the dogs likely got out. According to police, the rest of the body camera footage after that shows the officer waiting for a man at the home to arrive.

Police said the man was cited for two counts of non-immunized animal, two counts of dangerous animal prohibited and 2 counts of animal restraint.

In regards to the alleged burglary call, the man told police he thought someone broke into their house and that is how the dogs escaped. Police said nothing was reported missing at that time, and no video was available depicting an intruder. 

Police have provided all video, reports and body camera videos to the Vigo County Prosecutor's Office, who will be releasing the full footage sometime Wednesday.

According to police, the prosecutor's office shared a written determination that no criminal activity was found to have occurred on the part of the officer.

After seeing the viral video, police contacted the man and asked multiple times if he wished to make a complaint, but he declined. The prosecutor's office also tried to meet with the man and family members to allow them to view the full body camera footage, but the prosecutor's office said this offer was declined as well.

"We hold the highest regard for our police K-9s and consider them all part of our family. Many of us have our own animals and would no more want to see them hurt than our own children," the post reads. "While the conduct in the video has been determined by the prosecutor to not constitute a crime by the officer and the body camera footage is in sharp contrast to the original social media narrative, we will still be objectively evaluating the conduct to see if it violates any departmental policies or directives."

The officer has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, per department policy.

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