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Deputy kills pit bull

Sheriff’s officials say dog lunged at deputy during traffic stop, owner disputes claim

Posted: July 21, 2009 10:17 p.m.
Updated: July 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

A sheriff's deputy shot and killed a pit bull Tuesday after a pair of dogs jumped out of their owner's truck during a traffic stop in Newhall.

While officials with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station said one of the dogs growled and charged at the sheriff's deputy, the owner and another witness said the two dogs were merely playing with one another.

"One of the dogs growled and charged at the deputy and to protect himself, he fired one round," said Lt. Brenda Cambra.

The dog, a 4-year-old male pit bull named Whiskey, died at the scene.

Just before 10 a.m., deputies pulled over Dean Gibson, 21, of Simi Valley near the intersection of Newhall Avenue and Pine Street, in the parking lot of Gibson's workplace.

Gibson, a generator mechanic, said he often brought the dogs to work. They routinely jump out of the truck, play and race into a nearby empty lot to do their business after long rides, he said.

The deputy told him to keep his dogs in his truck, but it was too late. The young pit bulls managed to jump out as Gibson was getting out. They ran around the back of the truck and out toward the lot, Gibson said.

That's when deputy pulled out his gun and fired a shot into the dog's chest, he said.

"My dog ran into the dirt as if he was going to finish going to the bathroom. He ran out into the dirt and just fell over," Gibson said.

Gibson said he trusted the dogs with his young children and they had never been aggressive. He said they were virtually ignoring the deputy as they tried to run around him.

"I just couldn't believe it, man," Gibson said. "I didn't believe he even shot him at first."

Two years earlier and just a couple of blocks away, deputies shot a pit bull-Rottweiler mix after it reportedly nipped a child in a mobile home park, got loose and charged at an animal control officer.

In regards to Tuesday's case, Lt. Cambra said if drivers are pulled over with pets in their cars, they should always be kept in the vehicle.

"Dogs should stay in the car during a traffic stop. And, in fact, the driver should stay in the car unless asked to exit the car by the deputy," she said.

Deputies pulled over Gibson for an equipment violation, Cambra said. But they didn't ticket him after the shooting.

"In the interest of justice, he wasn't cited," she said.

"No one wants this to happen," she said. "We feel for him."


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