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OXNARD : Owner of Dog Killed by Police Files Claim

Dusty the pit bull died in a hail of gunfire and a cloud of confusion.

Oxnard police say the dog was shot dead after he charged officers and then clamped his powerful jaws on the hind leg of a police dog. But Dusty’s owner, Modesto Estrada, says his dog was attacked by the police dog and then needlessly gunned down in full view of his wife and daughters.

So convinced is Estrada that his dog died unnecessarily that he filed a claim against the city earlier this month, seeking $15,000 in compensation.

“I feel I should have asked for more for what my kids and my wife went through,” Estrada, 47, said. “There was no need for any of that.”

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Police spokesman David Keith would not comment on the shooting, saying a lawsuit could result from Estrada’s claim.

But according to a police report, officers were conducting a yard-to-yard search last month for a wife-beating suspect when they found the suspect holed up in Estrada’s garage with the pit bull. Police said there is no indication that Estrada knew the suspect was hiding in the garage of his central Oxnard home.

When officers kicked down the door and entered the garage, the pit bull charged out, the police report said.

After the suspect was arrested, officers said the pit bull ran past them and began attacking the police dog, a German shepherd. Estrada’s dog was shot once, and after momentarily releasing his grip and attacking again was shot a second time and killed, according to the police report.

Officers put the dog’s body in a garbage bag and took it to an animal control shelter, where it remains frozen and awaiting pickup.

Estrada tells a different story. He said his dog never attacked the police dog, and that he offered to take his dog away when the two dogs began growling at each other. Estrada said he was never given the chance.

Estrada said his dog was shot once, and as he lay on the ground unable to move was attacked by the police dog. That’s when the pit bull was shot a second and fatal time, Estrada said.

Attached to Estrada’s claim is a letter from his oldest daughter, Vanessa.

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“I am writing this letter on behalf of my father and my little sister to express our deepest hurt of losing our dog Dusty,” the 13-year-old wrote.

Although the Estradas have a new dog, Vanessa wrote that the loss of the family pet has most affected her 5-year-old sister, Veronica.

“She is only 5 years old and she has never seen anything like that before,” Vanessa wrote. “She has nightmares and will not sleep in her room because the dog was always under the window.”

Estrada’s claim is under review.

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