Ogden police shoot, kill dog; 911 tapes related to case released

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jul 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-24 00:00:15-04

OGDEN, Utah -- Ogden Police have now released 911 tapes from the call that led to a welfare check and a pit bull being shot and killed.

Police said they were attacked, and an internal affairs investigation will determine if their actions were justified.

The dog owners said it was excessive force, and they intend to sue.

There are two very different sides to what happened outside 2965 Monroe Blvd. in Ogden. Police said an out-of-state phone call late Tuesday night led them to the Sustaita family's home.

Caller: "I don't live in the Ogden area, but I have a brother who lives there and I'm kind of worried because I haven't heard from him in a while."

The caller asked police to check on 34-year-old Hector Rosa, who lives at the Monroe Boulevard home with his girlfriend. The caller said Rosa made comments on Facebook that left her concerned.

Caller: "He posted, can somebody please help me get out of here? I need to leave Utah and then nobody's heard from him since. And he kinda made a threat .. Ogden 13 gang. He posted on his Facebook page a while ago, f--- them and they're a bunch of blah, blah, blah. I just want to make sure that he's OK, that he's alive and nobody's hurt him."

Dispatcher: "OK, I'll send them out there."

When police arrived, they said they noticed the "beware of dog" sign and shook the fence, announcing themselves but never heard a response until they walked on the property. Police said the suspect came out of the backyard with a baseball bat and the family's pit bull "Chula."

"There was a verbal exchange between the officer, at which time the individual siced the dog on the officer," said Lt. Will Cragun of the Ogden Police Department.

The officer shot and killed Chula, who was a Mother's Day gift and had been with the family 11 years, since the dog was a puppy.

"I don't think they thought before they did something, and now my dog is dead and that dog was just like a kid to me," homeowner Barbara Sustaita said.

"I think it's ridiculous that they have to take such desperate measures to shoot dogs; a dog can be pepper-sprayed and run away," said Mia Mendiola, a relative of the family.

"My dog doesn't even know how to attack," Sustaita added.

She doesn't believe Chula charged at the officer.

However, Ogden Police Department officials said animal control has had two previous reports alleging that Chula has been aggressive.

"Obviously, the officer felt threatened," Cragun said.

Police said they didn't arrest the suspect because they didn't want to add to an already emotional situation, but police plan on asking the Weber County Attorney to screen charges. Hector Rosa has a criminal record, including a domestic violence conviction. Ogden Police claim he's assaulted an officer before and feel he used Chula as a weapon.

Meanwhile, the Sustaita family doesn't blame Rosa. They feel police could have used non-lethal force and are currently looking for lawyers who will take their case.