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S.L. woman defends dog killed by officer

Adele Breeden called a press conference Thursday to clear her dead dog's good name.

"My Bro has had a bad rap," she said. "I want to clear his name because I love my animal."She asked the public and police department to support a program in her dog's memory.

At her press conference, she told a story that differed from the one she told the Deseret News nearly two weeks ago. When questioned originally about what happened the night her dog was shot three times by Salt Lake police officer Matthew Larson, she said only that she heard the shots, rounded a corner and saw the officer standing over her dog.

Thursday, she told a group of reporters that she actually saw Larson shoot her dog and that the second shots were unnecessary and came as the dog was running away. She said the autopsy reports support her statements.

She presented evidence from an autopsy done by her veterinarian and accused Larson of "lying" about what happened. Despite holding her press conference in the conference room of her lawyer's office, she said she doesn't plan to sue. Breeden said she only wants to start a program where officers spend more time walking through neighborhoods getting to know residents.

Outside the law office where her press conference took place, the officer's family and friends waited wanting to know what was happening and hoping for the chance to defend Larson.

"He's one of the most logical, rational, unprovokable people you could ever meet in your life," said Mary Fletcher, Larson's sister-in-law. "I'm absolutely disgusted over this."

Larson's family is upset that the soft-spoken father of three is being portrayed as an angry, blood-thirsty killer.

His wife, Abigail Larson, said her husband told her about the incident the night it happened and was upset about killing the dog. But she maintains he felt he had no choice because he thought the dog would attack and possibly kill him.

"How dare we place a higher value on a dog's life than a human's," Fletcher said. "Especially, an officer who puts his life on the line every day."

A family friend, Mary Jo Guercio, added, "It comes down to a question of personal accountability." She said Larson is being held accountable for his actions by the department (which is conducting an internal affairs investigation), and Breeden should be held accountable for letting her dog run without a leash.

Larson said he yelled at the dog and backed up, but it kept running toward him and that he didn't see or hear anyone trying to control the dog.

Breeden said she yelled at Bro when he started barking and that she was only about 30 feet away.

Her lawyer plans to submit the autopsy results to the city prosecutor's office and the police department.

"This isn't a leash-law problem," said Breeden's lawyer, Gary Ferguson, who said he's working on the case for free. "If this were a leash-law problem, there would be 50 dead dogs in Liberty Park everyday. This is an issue of bad judgment, poor emotional control and easy access to a handgun."

Larson is required to carry his department-issued 9mm handgun while on duty, which he was the night he met Bro.

Breeden said she only called a press conference to release the autopsy information and ask the public to participate in "Bro's Idea." She wants police officers to go on a walk through neighborhoods part of their shift with neighbors.

Anyone who wants to participate can call 531-9450 or write the law offices of Williams and Hunt at P.O. Box 45678, SLC 84145-5678.