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Family Sues Commerce City for Police Shooting Death of Family Dog

Friday, July 30, 2010

Federal Lawsuit File Against Commerce City, Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Attorneys with The Animal Law Center of Wheatridge, Colorado today filed a civil lawsuit in Federal  Court against the Commerce City Police Department on behalf of their clients Frank and Julia Agazio of Commerce City, Colorado. In their suit, the Agazio’s claim that Commerce City Police Officer Suzanne Barber used excessive and unnecessary force when she shot and killed the Agazio family dog during a routine call to their home.


On February 3, 2010, Officer Barber arrived at the Agazio family home to investigate an accidental 911 call made by the Plaintiff, Frank Agazio. Officer Barber entered the fenced yard with her gun drawn, according to a witness. Zoey, a 30 pound mixed breed dog with no history of aggressive or vicious behavior, began barking and approached Officer Barber. When Zoey was approximately 20 feet away from Barber, the officer shot and killed the animal. Immediately upon hearing the shot, Frank Agazio stepped outside of the home to investigate. Officer Barber then pointed her weapon at Agazio and ordered him to retreat.


In the lawsuit, the Agazio’s allege that the actions taken by Officer Barber were “extreme and outrageous” and put the family in undue fear for their lives. In addition, 13-year-old Maria Agazio, who witnessed the shooting and fainted afterwards, has had to undergo trauma counseling. Along with monetary damages, the Plaintiff’s would like to see improvements in police training and equipment use in cases involving dogs.  In two previous lawsuits, The Animal Law Center successfully argued for changes in the way police officers in Brighton and Denver are trained and equipped to handle routine calls where animals are present.

“Officer Barber was conducting a routine call to the Agazio home and did not have any cause for entering the property with her gun drawn,” said Jennifer Edwards, lawyer and founder of The Animal Law Center. “Zoey was a small dog and posed no threat to the officer. Why she chose to shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later is inexcusable, especially when she had non-lethal means in her possession to manage the situation.”

About The Animal Law Center: 

The Animal Law Center provides an array of legal services for animal owners and guardians.  We are the only dedicated animal law practice in Colorado and are one of the few firms in the United States that practice animal-related law on a full time basis.  While individual members of The Animal Law Center hold political and ethical beliefs related to animals, the ALC considers ALL cases, regardless of a potential client’s political and ethical views. The ALC is a firm that practices law as it pertains to animals, not necessarily animal-rights law. For more information:


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