The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has announced an investigation into the actions of Met Police, following the shooting two dogs and which took place in Poplar, east London, on Sunday 7 May.
The incident, during which the man in charge of the dogs was tasered, was captured on video and quickly went viral. The Met, who had arrived at the scene following reports of a dog attack, approached Louie Turnbull, who had the two dogs on lead. While the dogs barked at the approaching officers, neither is shown attacking the officers, who nonetheless shot one of the on-lead dogs and tasered the owner, who then attempted to flee.
While some officers went after Mr. Turnbull, others attempted to grab the second dog, and afterwards shot him at close range as he screamed, while Mr. Turnbull was held to the ground and detained a short distance away. The entire scene played out under the eyes of horrified onlookers, some of whom recorded the encounter. Both dogs, called Marshall and Millions, were killed at the scene. Millions was nine months old.
Met Police later stated that the “aggressive behaviour of two dogs was of considerable concern and posed a significant threat to them”, although the video shows both dogs on lead, and making no attempt to attack the officers prior to the shooting. The IOPC investigation was opened following complaints from people who witnessed the incident, and the IOPC determined they required independent investigation.
IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe said, “We understand the public concern regarding this incident and it is appropriate that it should be independently investigated. We will examine whether the actions of the officers involved were reasonable and proportionate in all of the circumstances and in line with relevant policy and procedure.”
Since the incident occurred, hundreds thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the Met Police to be “held accountable for the barbaric killing of two leashed dogs”. Charity Dogs On The Streets, who supports homeless people and their dogs, has started a legal fund.
We are here to remember the two beautiful dogs Marshall and Millions who were killed by the Met Police earlier this week, to remember all the human and non-human lives that are taken every day at the hands of the state and the police, and to hold the Met Police accountable for… pic.twitter.com/6nIHuUIXhz
— Animal Rising (@AnimalRising) May 11, 2023
Clinical animal behaviourists Dr Kendal Shepherd and Helen Howell, who are are routinely engaged to assess dogs which have been seized by the police as ‘dangerous’, said in a statement, “It is immediately apparent from videos of the incident circulating on social media, that the attending officers had little experience in how to recognise or deal with the unit that is comprised of any owner accompanied by their dogs. Arriving already brandishing handcuffs, tasers and shot guns is not the way to go about it.
“We believe that the inevitable escalation of this incident to its most unnecessary and distressing conclusion is not the fault of the responding officers themselves. There is an evident lack of appropriate training in how to best manage such a situation, which must take any dog’s emotions and perspective into account as a priority.
“Whatever the severity of injury a dog may have caused (in this case, the allegedly mauled victim did not need hospital treatment), the essential nature of non-threatening communication and negotiation with both species must be recognised and implemented, if needless deaths are to be avoided.”