ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - A St. Petersburg police officer fatally shot a German shepherd while trying to detain a man near Williams Park on Thursday night.
Police say 21-year-old Kenneth McNeil had been given a warning to stay out of the downtown St. Petersburg park. He was walking the dog Thursday night and allegedly ignored an officer's demand to stop.
Police say McNeil then let the dog loose and that 29-year-old Officer Steven Laurenzi fired several shots, killing the animal.
The police department has new rules in effect since 2012, after a number of dogs were shot and killed by police.
Internal Affairs is investigating this latest shooting, but the department believes it was justified because the suspect allegedly released the dog and it created a threat to the officers.
Police spokesman Mike Puetz says there are newer training procedures in place since eight dogs were shot and killed by police officers in 2011. That rash of shootings created backlash from the community. The department says unfortunately, there are some circumstances in which force must be used, and this apparently was one of them.
McNeil is being held on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest with violence.
There were some earlier questions as to who owned the dog. Police say McNeil told them he was walking the dog for someone else, but a person who spoke with police said he gave the animal to McNeil about a year ago and that the suspect has been the owner of the dog ever since.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
You may also like...
Weird Florida: A look back at some of the strangest stories of the year
Miracle Baby: Tampa toddler has 5-organ transplant
Broke Bad: Contest winner busted in synthetic drug ring
Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
Fake Cop: Man arrested 3 times for impersonating officer
Animal tragedy: Girl's miniature horse attacked by dogs
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here