A doorbell camera caught an Indiana police officer kicking a dog on the front porch of a Terre Haute home, sparking outrage in the community and on social media — but police say there’s more to the story.
In the Ring doorbell video, which has been shared thousands of times on Twitter and elsewhere, a Terre Haute officer is seen walking onto the porch with another officer behind him. A dog begins barking at the officer and he responds by repeatedly kicking the animal.
“Yesterday evening while my family and I were at work, someone broke into my home. My dogs ran the intruder off,” the post said. “This was the response shortly after a neighbor called. My home needed help and all it received was hurt.” (WARNING: The video may be too intense for some.)
Yesterday evening while my family and I were at work, someone broke into my home. My dogs ran the intruder off. This was the response shortly after a neighbor called. My home needed help and all it received was hurt. #AnimalCruelty pic.twitter.com/0tnNbSulod
— Haley Richey (@haleyjrichey) November 30, 2021
But the 22-second clip leaves out a lot, the Terre Haute Police Department said in a Dec. 1 statement on Facebook, sharing body camera footage from the officer at the center of the viral video. (WARNING: The video contains strong language.)
Officers responded to the 1700 block of Ohio Street after 7 p.m. on Nov. 29, after receiving a call about an aggressive dog, the statement said, not a burglary or break-in as the post implies.
A white pit bull had been “charging at everyone that goes by,” the caller said, adding that the dog had bitten a child and a mailman in the past.
That same dog, responding officers were told, had escaped from the backyard of a home last year and bitten an 11-year-old girl, according to the police statement.
The nearly 4-minute bodycam video released by the department captures what happened in the moments just before the Terre Haute police sergeant kicked the dog.
“We have included the first 3 minutes and 46 seconds of the body camera footage to provide a better understanding of what led up to the Ring video,” police said.
About 1 minute in, two dogs run up to the officer barking and lunging. He stands his ground, yelling “get away from me,” and they slowly back off.
Trying to figure out who the dogs belong to, the officer knocks on a resident’s door at around the 2:50 mark. After a short conversation, he learns the dogs aren’t hers, and the officer walks over to the house next door where the kicking incident takes place.
The released footage ends at 3 minutes, 47 seconds. But later video shows the officers talking with a male resident about the dogs.
“During the video, the male was cited for 2 counts of non-immunized animal, 2 counts of dangerous animal prohibited, and 2 counts of animal restraint,” the statement said.
It wasn’t until 10:49 p.m. that police say they received a call regarding a possible break-in at the home.
“The male resident contacted police again and reported that after speaking with his family, he believes someone may have gotten into their residence and that is how the dogs escaped,” police said.
THPD is investigating the alleged break-in, but said that “nothing was reported missing” when officers were at the home earlier, “and no video was available depicting an intruder.”
Additionally, “there are currently no witnesses or video indicating an intruder was present or that the dogs scared one off,” the statement said.
All evidence was turned over to the Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office and it was determined that the officer did nothing to break the law, police said. The sergeant has temporarily been put on administrative duty.
“While the conduct in the video has been determined by the prosecutor to not constitute a crime by the officer and the body camera footage is in sharp contrast to the original social media narrative, we will still be objectively evaluating the conduct to see if it violates any departmental policies or directives,” THPD said in the statement.
McClatchy News reached out to the individual who shared the video for comment on Dec. 1, but they have not responded.