Jen Davison
Police spokesman Brian Schmautz claims that officers usually use pepper-spray to defend themselves against aggressive dogs. But on October 1, two officers pulled out their guns and shot two Rottweilers in southeast Portland.

The incident has stunned nearby residents, especially the dogs' owner, Gerry (last name withheld.) He and his dogs were simply minding their own business when police officers barged into his life.

"It just seems like one minute I'm sitting in my living room writing checks to pay bills," Gerry says, "and five or ten minutes later my life is all screwed up--one of my dogs is dead, one is hurt, and I've been assaulted with a deadly weapon in my own yard by police who are trespassing."

The fracas began on October 1 when police were looking for a fugitive in a Southeast neighborhood. Thinking the suspect had jumped the fence into Gerry's yard, they approached Gerry's house and asked if they could look around. Gerry cooperated, meeting Officer Justin Clary outside. He brought his three Rottweilers inside and escorted the officer through his backyard. They found nothing.

"We were satisfied that there was nobody back there--and that if anyone had been back there, they were gone," said Gerry. He then led Officer Clary back through the gates, where the officer said simply "I'm going," and walked away.

According to Gerry, Officer Clary never told him that he planned to return. When the officer had left, Gerry says he led his dogs through his fenced driveway and sideyard, which the officer had not seen. Finding nobody, he then led the dogs back to the house and started calling them in.

The dogs were near the door when they were distracted and ran around the corner. Almost immediately, Gerry heard shots, and walked around the house to see Officer Clary shooting his female dog, Sassy, who had been due to deliver puppies in a few days. One of the male dogs, Chevy, had already been shot in the jaw by a Gresham officer.

"I walked over, with my hands up [in a non-threatening posture], and said, 'Stop shooting my dogs.'" Instead, Clary shot Sassy one more time. Gerry then approached the officer--still keeping his hands visible--and told Clary to back off. The officer allegedly responded by shoving his handgun into Gerry's stomach and saying, "No, you back off."

"The police have the audacity to lie about the whole thing," Gerry says. "I heard [police spokesman] Schmautz on the radio, and he said that [I] charged [Clary], then he quickly said, 'Officer Clary, having discharged his weapon, put it back in the holster, and told [me] to step back.' Really [Clary] pushed the gun into me and was trying to make me back down."

Clary allegedly continued to shove the owner with his gun until the other officers pulled him away and calmed him down. Two weeks later, the bruise on Gerry's stomach is still there.

When discussing the incident, police spokesman Schmautz did not mention Clary's assault on Gerry. According to Schmautz, the officers "believed the homeowner understood their intent to return."

"This is not a situation where officers are just going from yard to yard shooting dogs," said Schmautz, "and there are people who want to say that's what was going on. In this case, there was some miscommunication, and then this tragic thing happened."

But Gerry counters that assertion and plans to pursue a lawsuit. "It wasn't miscommunication," he says. "There was no communication. Officer Clary did not say anything to me that would lead me to believe he was coming back." If he had said something, Gerry adds, "I would not have been out [in the yard] with my dogs."

Since the shooting, Gerry hasn't been sleeping well, and his two surviving dogs now fear all strangers. He faces thousands of dollars in veterinary bills for his dog, Chevy, who was shot in the jaw, and he has missed several days of work.