An Oklahoma mom was inside preparing a birthday cake for her son’s party when all of a sudden — BOOM! First, she saw the blood outside. Then, she saw her son in tears. That’s when she realized what happened.
Vickie Malone had just brought the children inside in order to enjoy some cake and ice cream as they celebrated her 5-year-old son’s birthday when her young son Eli said, “There’s something wrong with Opie,” as he stared out the window of their Wynnewood home.
The birthday cake and ice cream hadn’t even been served when the partygoers heard the bang from outside, and soon, they would realize that the loud noise was the sound of a Wynnewood police officer shooting the family dog Opie.
A three-year-old, 90-pound American Bulldog and Pit Bull mix, Opie was Eli’s best friend. “I would have fun with him when he runned around, and we played tag,” Eli told FOX 25. Things would go from bad to worse for Eli’s birthday when the officer fired on the dog again as children looked on. The police department has called the actions justified.
When the adults ran outside, they saw Opie near the fence that surrounds the yard. “He [Opie] was over here kicking and gasping for air,” Vickie Malone recalled. Meanwhile, the police officer retrieved a rifle from his police vehicle, which he then used to put the dog down, firing two shots from the rifle. “The kids were all watching through the window,” Malone told the New York Daily News.
Rio Youngblood, Malone’s son and Opie’s legal owner, said he asked the officer, “Why’d you shoot my dog?” but he didn’t get an answer. “He walks slowly out to his car, gets an AR-15, and points it at the dog and pulls the trigger,” Youngblood told the Daily News. “He fires another round, and it ended my dog’s life. He lowered his head and drove off.”
Opie’s dead body then laid on the ground, covered with a towel, for more than an hour as the family waited for another police officer to arrive at the scene and take statements from the family as a 5-year-old’s birthday party was ruined in the worst imaginable way.
Initially, the police officer allegedly told Malone that the dog had lunged at him through the fence. According to Wynnewood Police Chief Ken Moore, the officer said the dog was vicious and attacked him by coming around the corner of the house to charge at him. Moore said the officer tried to kick the dog off him before shooting him.
However, a video of the aftermath of the shooting paints a different picture. In the footage, the dead dog, with a gunshot wound to his head, is lying inside the fence that surrounds the property. However, it’s possible that the dog returned to the other side of the fence after being shot.
Because of the fence, one would think the officer must have been on the property if he felt threatened by the dog. However, those reports are conflicting. While Malone says that the officer told her the dog tried to attack him through the fence, Chief Moore seems to elude to the officer being on the property.
“The dog cannot jump the fence,” Malone said, according to Daily Mail. “The dog could maybe have gotten his head through the fence but he wouldn’t have been able to open it,” she added. But, Chief Moore makes it sound as though the officer had entered the property because, according to Chief Moore, the officer was serving a warrant, giving him legal authority to be on private property.
According to Malone, no one at the party was ever shown any warrant. Instead, they were only told the officer was looking for someone who had listed that address as his residence a decade ago. “He said he was checking to see if a guy name Shon McNiel lived here and no one here has heard of talking about,” Malone recalled.
The warrant for McNiel was from a 10-year-old case. The police chief said the Malones’ house was his last known address, but the chief also admitted that his department was aware the Malones had lived there for the past year. He further admitted that the address was a “rent house” and that multiple people had “moved in and out” in the past decade.
Still, Chief Moore is defending his officer and his officer’s presence on the property, saying he “had to start somewhere” in his effort to serve the warrant. Malone doesn’t quite agree. “I respect what the police do, but this was senseless, but he didn’t show any remorse and didn’t even act like he was sorry or anything,” she told a local news station.
The Malones, who have identified the officer involved as Officer Josh Franklin, believe the death of their dog could have been prevented if the officer had simply used less-lethal force or fact-checked the warrant before attempting to serve it at what was obviously the wrong address. What’s more, they say Officer Franklin was familiar with their address and aware of the dog.
Instead, Eli is left missing his best friend, with the memory that his buddy was killed during his birthday — something that will likely stay with the boy for a very long time. Eli made a small wooden cross to mark Opie’s backyard gravesite. While it hurts to lose a good friend, Eli says it hurts even more that no one with the Wynnewood Police Department has said they’re sorry.
Although the mayor promised the incident would be discussed at the next city council meeting and admitted the officer who killed the dog had previous questionable actions, that did little to comfort the party’s youngest guests, some of whom are not wanting to go outside to play anymore after the horror they witnessed. Eli isn’t alone in his grief, either. Youngblood said his son Vrylend is also still mourning Opie’s death. Speaking to the Daily News, he said, “I came outside last night and he’s on the trampoline. He said, ‘I’m singing to Opie’s heart. I miss him.'”