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Couple says their dog shouldn't have been shot during drug raid

By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Michael Wallawender says he is no saint and deserves to be charged with illegal possession of marijuana, but says in no way should Utica Police officers have shot his beloved dog during a drug raid in the early morning hours on Friday.

Wallawender's American Pit Bull Terrier named Rocky was first tasered by Utica Police, then shot to death by the same officers shortly after 6:00 a.m. Friday.

Utica Police Sgt. Steve Hauck says police were granted a search warrant to look for a marijuana growing operation at 825 Hamilton Street.

Wallawender says he and his girlfriend were upstairs sleeping, with their dog Rocky in the room, and their two year old son who was next to their bed in a playpen, when police broke through their front door downstairs.

"When they went upstairs, we heard them coming," he said. "My girlfriend was already at the doorway with my dog, and I'm like my hands are right here, let me put my dog away. She's got the dog. Don't shoot."

The 30 year old says his girlfriend was covering up and shielding Rocky, whom he says is a show dog registered with the United Kennel Club, from police, when an officer tasered the dog.

That girlfriend, who does not want her name used in this story says she was bitten on both sides of her ankle by her beloved dog.

"When they tasered my dog, he went ballistic," she said. "He started biting my ankle, and I wouldn't make a noise, because I thought if I did, they would shoot my dog."

She says that's when one of the officers "picked me up, literally off my dog, and threw me to the ground in the other room and shot my dog twice. Not just once in the head, twice."

Sgt. Hauck says officers were protecting the woman and themselves because the dog not only bit the woman, but also bit two police officers, before it was shot.

Wallawender denies his dog bit anyone, other than his girlfriend. He does admit marijuana was seized. He said "Yeah, they found a couple marijuana plants and a little bit of weed. It's a crime, but they didn't need to use excessive force. I don't own no guns. I am not a violent person."

Police say besides the marijuana on the dresser, they also found plants growing in the basement, but more than just a couple of plants. Hauck says police found 100 plants, as well as instruments used to process and package the marijuana.

Wallawender and his girlfriend are both charged with possession of marijuana, but Hauck says more charges may be filed.

The couple says the police officers should be charged with endangering the welfare of a child for firing shots just a few feet from their two year old son.

Hauck says the officers involved in these raids are highly trained, and it is because they are so well trained, no one else was injured. He adds, the parents are the ones who are putting their child in danger by living in a home where they not only have marijuana, but are growing it.

The couple also says the officer who shot the dog is the same officer that was involved in the traffic stop that was captured on dash cam video and made national news a couple of weeks ago when the Utica Phoenix newspaper only played a portion of the video, which made it look as though that officer was planting evidence. Police said the entire 26 minute video revealed that the officer put the drugs seized, into his pocket while he made the arrests and there was no planting of evidence.

Wallawender say he actually knows that officer, because in his words the officer has had some issues with one of his girlfriends' friends.

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