Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Brunswick Sheriff’s Office and resident tell different stories after dog fatally shot by deputy

Harley Davidson was nearly nine years old when he was shot and killed during an incident near Bolivia in Brunswick County. (Port City Daily photo / Contributed)
Harley Davidson was nearly nine years old when he was shot and killed during an incident near Bolivia in Brunswick County. (Port City Daily photo / Contributed)

BOLIVIA — On Thursday a Brunswick County Sherriff’s deputy shot and fatally wounded a resident’s dog, but what exactly led to the shooting remains unclear while an Internal Affairs investigation is underway.

Both parties agree on the basic facts:

On Thursday, July 18, a Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputy attempted to serve a warrant at 2401 Old Ocean Highway, just a few miles from BCSO headquarters.

The subject of the warrant was not there, but Dennis Staton – who lives nearby – was. Staton was working on his vehicle, an RV, and his dog – a black, pit-bull labrador mix, named Harley Davidson was laying under the RV.

Staton and BCSO don’t agree on what happened next.

According to BCSO spokesperson Emily Flax, “As our deputy approached the man, a dog – described as a black, pit bull/lab mix – came out in an aggressive manner from under an RV that was parked at the residence. The dog was barking and growling (showing teeth) and charged the deputy. Our deputy began stepping back and instructing the man in the carport to call off the dog. The dog continued to charge so the deputy fired two shots to stop the dog.”

Staton said the deputy was only out of his vehicle for approximately “10 seconds” before he shot Harley. According to Staton, Harley came out from under the vehicle about three feet from where the deputy was standing and barked. Staton said he called to Harley, telling his dog to sit; according to Staton, as the dog was sitting, the deputy shot the dog twice.

Staton said Harley, who was approaching nine years old, did not touch or move aggressively towards the deputy. According to Staton, Harley – who was rescued as a puppy from an abusive situation – was timid around people and would bark but keep his distance.

Staton said his dog may have startled the deputy, who he said he believed was “looking for a criminal.” Staton said he felt the deputy had a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude.

Both parties do agree that, after the shooting, a Brunswick County Animal Protective Services unit arrived and took Harley to a local vet; according to BCSO the vet was forced to euthanize the wounded dog, Staton said he belives Harley was already fatally wounded or dead on the scene.

The Office of Internal Affairs is conducting an investigation, as is protocol for all similar use of force incidents — the investigation is not an admission of wrongdoing.

Staton said he met with authorities today to discuss the incident. BCSO has not released the name of the deputy involved in the incident.

(Editor’s note: This is an ongoing story and will be updated with more information if and when it becomes available.)

Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001

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