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S.L. policeman cleared in the shooting of dog

The Salt Lake police officer who shot a dog while jogging on his lunch break has been cleared by the department of any wrongdoing.

Assistant Chief Larry Stott announced Monday that the department's internal affairs division investigated the shooting and determined that "officer Matt Larson's actions were within the parameters of Utah state law and Salt Lake Police Department policy and procedures."Larson was running at about 700 East and 100 South on Sept. 27 around 11:30 p.m. He was on duty, but on his lunch break, when he said a 93-pound mix-breed dog named Bro ran out of a parking lot barking at him.

Larson said he stepped backward and looked for an owner because the dog was not on a leash. When no one called to the dog and it continued toward him, he shot Bro with his department-issued 9mm handgun three times, killing it.

The dog's owner, Adele Breeden, told a different story. She said she was letting her dog run loose that night, but called to Bro when he started barking.

In her first interview, she said she heard the shots while she was around the corner from Bro and Larson. At a press conference a couple of weeks later, however, she said she actually saw the shooting and said Larson shot the dog as it ran away from him.

She told the Deseret News that she had a hard time remembering details of the shooting immediately afterward. It wasn't until she talked with people repeatedly that the specifics of the incident came back to her.

Regardless of what police say, Breeden said she believes the shooting wasn't justified. She doesn't, however, have any plans for a lawsuit right now.

"The police protect the police," she said. "I can't fight city hall."

She said she wants to continue working on a project she hopes will produce something positive from a tragic experience.

"One thing I can do is continue with Bro's Idea," she said, referring to a program she wants to start where police would take a daily walk with neighbors throughout the city. "Anger begets anger. I want there to be peace in the world."

Breeden said physical evidence, including a post-mortem examination by a veterinarian, showed Bro wasn't attacking Larson. She gave the information to police, who gave it to a state medical examiner. His conclusion was different.

He said all three bullets hit Bro as he faced Larson. The Humane Society examined the results of an autopsy and witness statements and determined that Larson acted within the law. The animal organization, however, said the department needs rules specifically governing the use of deadly force against animals.

Stott said the department initiated an internal affairs investigation after Breeden called and talked to detectives.

"We take that as a complaint," he said. Stott said the department has no plans to draft a policy on using deadly force on animals because they feel the general use-of-force policy is adequate.

"We have a good use-of-force policy," he said. "And basically, I think it works . . . If we drafted policies for every individual situation we deal with, we'd have so many policies we couldn't keep track of them."

The bottom line for the department is fairly simple.

"He felt he was in jeopardy and he took action," Stott said.

Anyone interested in participating in or helping organize neighborhood police walks can write to Bro's Idea, c/o Williams and Hunt, P.O. Box 45678, SLC, UT, 84145, or call 531-9450.