Exonerating police officer in fatal dog shooting was emotional conclusion for Lorain brass

Officer exonerated in fatal dog shooting

The Lorain Police Department made a studied decision last week when it exonerated an officers who shot and killed a dog July 2.

Lorain police officials determined that Officer Elliot Palmer did not violate department policy for shooting the dog named Dixie that was behaving aggressively toward him.

Palmer, however, did violate police policy by not immediately activating his body worn camera as he stepped out of his cruiser to assist in corralling multiple loose dogs in the residential area while on patrol.

Palmer was on modified duty assigned to various areas during the thorough investigation into the shooting and the owners of Dixie.

Lorain police Chief Jim McCann hosted a news conference Sept. 7 and released the findings and conclusion of the investigation in a 102-page report at City Hall.

Palmer was patrolling in the area of Oberlin Avenue and West Eighth Street when he noticed four dogs running at-large.

Tammie Kerns and her daughter Mellenie Kerns were attempting to catch the animals as Palmer arrived at 710 Oberlin Ave.

The dogs’ registered owner is Tammie Kerns’ husband, Wilbur Kerns, who was at the scene.

None of the dogs was wearing collars, and the Kernses were attempting to restrain the pets by pulling their tails to keep them from running free.

Palmer noticed that Mellenie Kerns had a fresh wound on her arm, and as a first responder, the officer was concerned one of the dogs injured her.

One of the mixed breed dogs first approached Palmer as he instructed the Kernses to contain the dogs.

The first dog that approached Palmer was friendly toward him and showed no signs of aggression.

As the women attempted to corral the dogs, Palmer noticed one, Dixie, was hyper-focused on him.

Dixie charged Palmer, who attempted to sidestep out of the path and back up.

However, Dixie changed direction and continued to charge.

Palmer shot Dixie four times, and she died at the scene.

One would expect a great deal of emotion resulting from the incident.

And there was.

The owners of the dogs and multiple residents became unruly and threatened Palmer, who was instructed to leave the scene to calm the angry group of people after he called for assistance from other officers.

The investigation concluded Palmer acted in a reasonable fashion because the dog was a threat.

Palmer has a long history of pet ownership and was attacked by a dog earlier this year while on duty bringing in a stray dog on a leash.

A dog bite to Palmer’s hand forced to take time off work.

Medical professionals told Palmer he was in jeopardy of losing his hand due to the infection.

McCann also concluded a non-lethal method such as a stun gun wasn’t used to contain the dogs because it’s difficult to accurately shoot the prongs into a person successfully, let along a running dog.

McCann also touched on the negative aftermath that included death threats toward Palmer, which led to the city having to deactivate his email address.

Palmer’s family also received death threats, which should not have happened.

And, McCann is unmovable about allowing his officers to be threatened.

The threats are uncalled for and cowardly.

This is a very emotional ordeal for the Kerns family, who told Morning Journal reporter Lauren Hoffman on Sept. 7 they didn’t want to comment at this time.

However, a deep dive into the probe revealed that Tammie Kerns has a history of irresponsible animal ownership according to a 2009 case where a judge ordered her to have no excessive pets due to health code violations found in her home during an investigation by the Lorain County Children’s Services.

There were issues with the Kernses having too many pets in their house as well as unhealthy living conditions, such as excessive trash, pet feces and urine.

At that time, there were more than 10 dogs living in the residence in addition to multiple cats and birds.

The investigative report also detailed that minor children were removed from the family home for child endangerment but were returned after the family agreed and abided by the terms of sentencing.

McCann is right that the public was blinded by emotion based on their love for animals.

And Palmer did express the entire situation is regrettable and he feels terrible for Dixie’s family.

The Lorain Police Department is comfortable with its decision, and now the people must accept it.

It’s time to heal from this unfortunate incident.

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