Todd the dog

Todd the dog

Todd loved to play fetch.

The border collie and boxer mix would chase his ball until he fell over if his owner, Rania Hagemeier, would have let him.

Hagemeier buried Todd with that ball, so he can chase it in heaven.

Todd died Wednesday. A Wilber police officer stood in the family’s yard and shot the dog in the head and chest as Rania Hagemeier’s 13-year-old daughter, Bree, screamed for the officer not to shoot, according to the family’s attorney, Dustin Garrison of Beatrice.

Wilber Police Chief Stephen Sunday, Mayor Roger Chrans and City Attorney Tad Eickman declined to comment on the case. Eickman said reports of the incident have been reviewed and turned over to the city’s insurance company.

In the meantime, city officials have declined to answer any questions, including whether the officer involved in the shooting has been disciplined or is still employed by the city.

When Sunday was asked about the Wilber Police Department’s policy on use of deadly force and discharging a firearm within the city, he declined to answer and hung up the phone.

In Facebook posts, Todd’s family described him as gentle and fun-loving. He lived with four Chihuahuas and a cat and liked to play with the neighbors’ children.

“Todd didn’t have a mean bone in his body,” Garrison said. “This is simply the result of an overzealous police officer that wanted to use his gun and used it on a dog for no apparent reason.”

The family has called for the officer to be fired and is considering a lawsuit or other action.

Some of the details surrounding the shooting remain hazy.

What the family knows is the door on the back porch didn’t get properly latched Wednesday morning, and Todd got out. Their yard has no fence.

A Wilber police officer responded to a report of a dog at large, but it's unknown whether Todd was the dog reported.

“We think he went to the location looking for another dog and just happened to stumble across Todd,” Garrison said.

While trying to catch Todd, the officer cornered the dog in the Hagemeier’s yard.

Bree Hagemeier opened the door of the house to see the officer pointing a gun and screamed for him to stop.

The officer shot Todd in the head. The dog then reared up and the officer shot him in the chest. Todd fell to the ground on his right side, Garrison said.

Bill Muldoon, director of the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, declined to comment on this specific case, but said officers are trained to use deadly force to defend themselves or others from death or serious bodily injury, and that includes an animal attack.

Garrison argued the officer needlessly endangered people by firing a gun in a residential neighborhood. 

“In shooting this dog, he put lots of people’s lives in danger,” Garrison said. “That bullet could have ricocheted anywhere in the neighborhood.”

Bree Hagemeier was 74 feet away when the officer fired the first shot and 63 feet away from the second shot, Garrison said.

The Hagemeier family had Todd’s body examined. The first bullet lodged in his head. The second passed through his body and has not been found.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7304 or nbergin@journalstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ljsbergin.


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