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PBSO investigates conduct of off-duty deputy during Loxahatchee dog attack

Posted at 1:08 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-05 05:18:46-05

The internal affairs division of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating how an off-duty deputy behaved during a dog attack in Loxahatchee over the weekend. 

"You know, in a neighborhood where you have a deputy, you think you'll feel safe," said 21-year-old Andrea Casanova. "Now we can't even go outside."

The investigation started after a Facebook post began circulating, accusing the deputy of unbecoming conduct after shooting and killing two dogs who killed some of the deputy's chickens.

The dogs belonged to Casanova and her sister. “He has my [dead] dog, holding him by his collar, and he’s just slamming him on the concrete multiple times,” Casanova told Contact 5 Investigator Merris Badcock.

The Facebook post, which was written by Casanova's boyfriend and has since been deleted, was shared at least 89 times.

The poster, Andres Gutierrez, accused the deputy of “slamming [one of the dead dogs] repeatedly on the concrete" in front of children and family members who owned the dogs, while the deputy’s daughter begged him to stop. “He then goes and drags the other dog, who was out back, to his front driveway, and throws [the dog] in front of [their] feet,” Gutierrez wrote. “He continues to curse at [the family], insult them, and threaten to kill their two other dogs, and every other dog on that street, even after they suffered enough from viewing his actions.”

However, according to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, the deputy acted within his right to defend his property.

“The deputy claimed the dogs aggressively charged towards him while he was trying to get them to stop killing his chickens,” according to Capt. David Walesky, an animal care spokesperson.

Walesky said 12 chickens were killed during the dog attack, and the Casanova sisters were cited for dogs running at large. "There were no other recent history of complaints involving these dog owners," said Walesky.

According to PBSO spokesperson Teri Barbera, the deputy did not use his service weapon when he shot and killed the offending dogs. "He was not acting in the capacity of a law enforcement officer. He was acting in the capacity of a private citizen protecting his private property," said Barbera.

Casanova's mother, Tamara Casanova, said she agrees the dogs should have never gotten onto the deputy's property, but thinks the deputy's actions have jeopardized the safety of the neighborhood.

“I understand that you need to protect your home and your family. You have every right, every right, but he could have fired a warning shot," she said.

The family told Contact 5 they decided to remove the Facebook post after the internal affairs investigation was opened since they felt the incident was isolated, and does not reflect the law enforcement agency as a whole.

Contact 5 reached out to the deputy for a comment through PBSO, but have not received a response. WPTV has chosen not to identify the deputy since he has not been charged with a crime.