The incident began on July 11 around 11:20 a.m. in the 3700 block of Keokuk Street, which is located in the Dutchtown South area. Two officers were responding to a call about copper thefts in the area when they were approached what the officers describe as a aggressive dog. When the dog showed its teeth, one of the officers pulled his weapon and fired several shots at the dog.One of his bullets missed the dog and ricocheted off the sidewalk. His partner was injured near his elbow, and was taken to Saint Louis University Hospital for treatment.
The officers were unsure of the dogs breed, but are searching for the dogs owner. The police aren't sure whether or not the dog suffered any injuries.
The injured officer hasn't been identified, but St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson posted on Twitter that the officer was in “good spirits.”
This is one reason dog lovers question the use of deadly force when faced with a potentially aggressive dog. A bullet can ricochet and strike an innocent party. In this case, the officer was lucky not to have been seriously injured or killed.
Rapid fire at dogs to stop the threat is the method taught to many police officers. In other words, continue shooting until the threat is stopped. With each bullet fired, there more risk that one will hit something other than the intended target.A police officer being injured by a partners bullet is one more reason police need to be trained in dog behavior, and condition themselves to use a weapon other than their gun as a first line of defense. Luckily, this shooting didn't involve a child being injured.
How can two police officers be unsure whether the animal was hit by any of the bullets? Was there no blood? Did the dog not cry out in agony? It's unlikely a police weapon was fired that many times and the police unsure whether any bullets hit their mark. That sounds like bad aiming or poor vision, which are both inexcusable in their line of work.
This isn't the first time another person has been hit by a ricocheting bullet. In May, 2013, a Chicago police officer was injured in an almost identical situation. Then in June, Winston-Salem resident Tamara Whitt was shot by a ricocheting bullet as police shot at her dog.