GREENVILLE, Va. (WHSV) — UPDATE (Oct. 30):
File photo of Augusta County Sheriff's Office patrol cars - cropped, modified, derivative image of original shared to WHSV by K. Kisamore
No criminal charges will be filed against an Augusta County investigator who shot and killed a dog on a leash last month.
According to Augusta County Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Martin, a thorough review of the case, including recorded statements from witnesses, as well as interviews with the dog's owner and the investigator, found that Investigator Roane acted out of self-defense.
The investigation was conducted internally by the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, and the full report is in the hands of the office of the Commonwealth's Attorney. He independently reviewed the investigation and agreed with the conclusion of the Sheriff's Office. You can find the press release on the report here.
For charges to be filed, the investigation would have to conclude that Roane shot the dog out of any purpose other than self-defense.
But, according to Martin, Roane believed he was in imminent danger of bodily harm when the German Shepherd, which belonged to Tina Ray, ran toward him as soon as he got out of his vehicle.
According to all accounts from the scene, it was within a matter of seconds that he pulled into a grassy area near the house, stepped out, the dog ran toward him in an apparently aggressive manner while on a leash attached to a trolley system, he backed up, the dog closed the distance, and then he drew his sidearm and fired one shot, killing the dog.
A witness of the scene and the deputies present confirmed that they saw the dog "going after" Roane, although it had not attacked or approached any of the other deputies on scene.
One of the deputies added that someone nearby had told deputies "sometimes he'll bite" when asked if the dog was friendly.
Investigator Roane was coming to the house after deputies serving a warrant for Tina Ray's arrest saw what they believed to be evidence of drug use.
According to Martin, Roane repeatedly apologized to the both Tina Ray and her estranged husband Mark after the incident, explaining that it was the first time he had discharged his weapon in 19 years as a law enforcement officer. He claimed he was "scared to death" when he saw the dog coming at him.
Mark Ray expressed understanding, saying "I woulda did the same thing. I mean I don't like other people's big dogs."
In response to apologies from Roane, as well as Sheriff Donald Smith, Tina Ray expressed frustration that the investigator parked on the grass instead of a driveway, where the incident could have potentially been avoided. She said she has "seen [the sorrow] in his eyes" when the investigator apologized to her and acknowledged that she thought the dog "could snap that lead and actually get off it if he wants off it at any time."
"I think you should have to wait until they ... draw blood," she said about Roane acting in self-defense.
However, by the end of her recorded call with the sheriff, Ray said "officers did not come down here to kill my dog. No they did not, you know?"
She also acknowledged a history of drug use to the sheriff.
In an interview with Roane, he said he parked in the grass because he typically interviews suspects on scene in his law enforcement vehicle for safety, so he pulled around the three other police vehicles on scene to park. Before getting out of the truck, he saw the dog, and believed it to be on a leash.
However, he claims to have thought the leash was tied to a tree.
When he stepped out and the dog ran at him, he explained his thoughts in those few seconds as the following.
"First, I was scared that the dog was attacking me and trying to bite me. Second, I thought that as I was running backwards, if I fell, the dog would bite my face or neck," Roane said. "I'm thinking I'm getting ready to fall. And if I do, he is gonna, he's gonna be on my neck. He's gonna rip my throat out. He's gonna be on my face."
In that moment, he says he thought the dog had broken free from the lead, and, in fear for his life, he drew his gun and fired, striking the dog about 29 feet behind the truck he had just gotten out of.
After shooting the dog, he examined it and the lead attached to the dog, finding about 15 feet of slack left in the trolley system to which the lead was attached. He states he did not see the trolley system when he arrived.
Based on those accounts of the case, Martin says no charges will be placed against Investigator Roane.
Following the investigation's results, Roane was taken off administrative leave and reinstated to full duty with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office.
ORIGINAL STORY (Sept. 25):
On Sunday, September 24, a dog was shot dead by an investigator with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office.
Afterward, a Facebook post by a neighbor giving an account of what occurred was shared hundreds of times. That post, by Adam Hicks, called for the investigator who fired the shot to be held accountable.
Hicks claimed that an investigator unnecessarily and maliciously shot his neighbor's German Shepherd when it was at the end of its leash and not a danger to the investigator.
On Monday, Sheriff Donald Smith released a public statement giving the Sheriff's Office's account of what occurred.
According to the ACSO, deputies responded to a home along West View Lane in Greenville to serve a warrant for assault and battery. While at that location, deputies smelled what they believed to be marijuana.
At that point, they called in the Augusta County narcotics investigator, due to other recent drug encounters in the area.
Preliminary investigation by the Sheriff's Office has found that the investigator pulled into the yard at the home "in order to get closer to the house to interview numerous people on location."
In the widely-shared Facebook post, Hicks said the deputies already at the scene had waited outside of the yard, where they had told the family to put their dog on a leash.
The Sheriff's Office says the investigator saw the dog when he pulled in to the yard and believed it to be tied to a tree. When he got out of his vehicle, the dog immediately came toward him "in an aggressive manner, biting at him and crawling," according to the release.
The investigator ran backwards from the dog, and did not know if the dog was still on a leash or had broken free, leading him to fear for his safety. He fired one shot, killing the dog at the scene.
According to Hicks, the German Shepherd had reached the end of its lead when the investigator fired.
The Sheriff's Office confirms that the dog was on a leash when the investigator arrived, but was not restrained to the tree he believed. Rather, the leash was on a trolley system between two trees in the yard.
The dog had run almost the entire length of the yard, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Photos posted on Facebook show the dog lying dead between an above-ground pool and a trampoline in the yard.
The investigator involved has been placed on administrative leave while a Use of Force investigation is conducted.
Sheriff Smith says the entire incident will be reviewed.
“I am extremely sorry that Sunday’s events occurred," said Smith in a written statement. "I understand that the German Sheppard was a family pet and the entire situation is unfortunate.”
The Sheriff's Office did not confirm the name of the investigator involved.