Knox County family alleges deputies wrongly shot and killed their dog while responding to a hang-up 911 phone call.
A Knox County family alleges Knox County deputies and communications dispatchers botched a 911 hang-up phone call at their home, leading to the shooting death of their pit bull “Lucifer”.
Kenny and Tina Bailey filed a lawsuit against the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the county emergency communications district and others in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. They seek at trial up to $500,000, and they’re also suing for punitive damages of up to $1 million.
They filed the lawsuit in November.
In November 2017, deputies were dispatched about 4 a.m. to the Bailey home on Thorngrove Pke.
According to the lawsuit, Tina Bailey accidentally dialed 911 while her phone was in her robe pocket. The call was disconnected.
When emergency communications personnel called back to check on her, she said there was no emergency and she was OK.
The Baileys allege, however, that 911 dispatchers failed to alert county dispatchers. Deputies went to the Bailey home. Deputies also could have ignored any effort to wave them off, the lawsuit states.
Deputies in the dark made “some sort of quasi-tactical approach” to the back of the home, the lawsuit states. They knocked on the side of the home. They passed “numerous private property and beware of dogs lighted signs,” according to the document.
The deputies tried to “lure out” the family’s three dogs, the lawsuit states.
When Lucifer came at them, they shot the dog to death, according to the lawsuit.
The full body cam video is below. Warning, it contains graphic images and language.
The Baileys allege deputies used excessive force in killing the dog. They also allege the deputies and dispatchers lacked training to properly handle such situations involving a hang-up 911 call.
The family has a right to feel safe and be safe in their home, the action states.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, three dogs including Lucifer ran from the back of the property. Lucifer charged the officers, the Sheriff’s Office said at the time.
A few weeks before, a man had reported being bitten at the home by a pit bull, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“There have also been previous calls of service to the address involving the Baileys in domestic matters,” a release at the time from the Sheriff’s Office stated.
The Sheriff’s Office also released body camera video. Officials noted in November 2016 that Kenny Bailey told them Lucifer was “police trained and admitted later in the video that given the situation that he would have shot the dog also.”
Bailey told 10News after the shooting that he meant he would have Tased or maced the dog, not that he would have shot it.
Bailey said his three dogs served as security to protect his family. He said deputies “panicked” in his yard, resulting in the dog being wrongly shot.
Sheriff J.J. “Jimmy” Jones told 10News the deputies had to act because the dogs were “very aggressive” and were rushing at the officers.
More: Sheriff defends shooting of ‘aggressive’ pit bull:
A 911 hang-up call from a home in Strawberry Plains led to a Knox County Sheriff’s deputy shooting and killing an “aggressive” pit bull who “came around the corner and charged” at the officers.
The dogs weren’t on a leash but they do wear shock collars that don’t allow them past a hidden perimeter, their owner said.
After the early Thursday morning incident, he posted pictures on Facebook and several viewers reached out through our 10Listens e-mail and social media for 10News to look into it.
Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones said the shooting was “clean.”
“It was legit,” he told WBIR 10News. “They were rushing them. They were very aggressive. (The deputies) had to protect themselves.”
The owner of the three pit bulls, Kenny Bailey, disagrees. He’s angry and believes the deputy had no right to shoot his dog named Lucifer. Bailey also referred to the dog as “Jack” during an interview at his home.
“They panicked and they know they panicked and they shot an innocent dog and I’m mad,” Bailey said.
He said his three pit bulls, Lucifer, Johnny Cash and Tank, are very well trained dogs that he has to protect his family and home.
Bailey’s property has 14 visible signs warning visitors of his three guard dogs.
Bailey also noted the deputy shot Lucifer from behind as the dog was running away.
“Those dogs were protecting those kids and this house. If I had been home it wouldn’t have happened,” he added.
In a news release, the sheriff’s office said the deputies responded to a hang-up call to 911 in the 10000 block of Thorngrove Pike shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday.
“For safety reasons, the officers parked away from the mobile home and knocked on the side of the residence. Three unrestrained dogs ran from back of the property with one pit bull charging the officers,” the news release said.
One officer shot and killed one of the dogs.
KCSO released body cam video of the incident.
According to KCSO, Bailey admitted that “given the situation that he would have shot the dog, also.”
Asked about that statement, Bailey told 10News he meant that he would have reacted the same way, but would have “tased or maced” the dog, instead of shooting it.
The sheriff’s office said they are investigating the shooting, and the two officers remain on duty. The sheriff’s office also noted that they took a report of a man being bitten by one of the pit bulls at Bailey’s address on Oct. 18.