A pit bull mix was pepper sprayed and shot by an NYPD officer on Monday afternoon outside of a KFC in the East Village at 14th St. and 2nd Ave. at about 4:15 p.m.
According to a passerby named Johnny Rodriguez, he and several other people called the New York Police Department, when they observed the man, identified by police as Lech Stankiewicz, having a seizure at the side of the road.
When police arrived at the scene, Rodriguez said, they attempted to approach Stankiewicz, but the man's dog, Star, was attempting to protect her owner from being harmed. According to Rodriguez, Star had already approached another passerby, Larissa Udovik, who got too close to her owner. An officer fired a shot at the dog, leaving her and the sick man suffering on the street.
A police source called the shooting "justified." The "video of the encounter" said the source, "leaves no question that the officers acted properly."
But others have criticized NYPD for how they handled the case. Doug Halsey, the director of Ready For Rescue, a non-profit animal rescue group, told the Gothamist that with irresponsible owners creating problems such as this, city police "need to be better trained to handle the situation and be equipped with the proper tools and taught how to use them to control dogs and other animals in situations like these."
Halsey was criticizing the use of pepper spray by another police officer on the dog, an act he said, that would only aggravate aggression.
Christian Pimentel, 21 told the New York Post, "It was just protecting its owner," while another witness, who did not wish to be identified, said, "They just let the dog bleed on the sidewalk, right in front of children."
A worker at a nearby KFC said that Star and the homeless man were both friendly and harmless.
Remarkably, both Stankiewicz and Star survived. Star remains in the care of the Animal Care & Control in NYC, said the East Village Local, but there also seems to be some discrepancy on how the dog is doing. According to Animal Control, the pit bull is stable, but the police source said that Star's outcome "didn't look very optimistic."