“I don’t want anything else out of this,” said Robby King of Smyrna. “This is life changing for me. Luke was such a big part of my life and I didn’t realize what all I did with him until now.”
When contacted for an interview, a spokesman for the Cobb Police Department said he could not comment about specifics in the incident report but added that the two officers involved “followed proper protocol and were not in violation of Cobb County policy and procedures.”
Just after 3 p.m. on Sunday, 45-year-old King triggered his house alarm when rushing into his house on Davis Road in Smyrna just south of Lockheed Martin to get ready to go visit his daughter and newborn grandson.
“I called two places about five times trying to get the alarm turned off,” King said. “I just didn’t have that password.”
In the meantime, Cobb Police were called to the scene in response to a house alarm sounding.
According to the report, two officers with the department, J.P. Gibson and G. M. Roach, responded to King’s home alarm going off.
Roach’s report states, “(911) advised that the alarm activation was coming from the back door and hall motion. Once on scene, I went to the back yard of (King’s residence) and noticed the patio porch door was fully open. I turned the back door knob and the door opened. I immediately closed the door back and notified Cobb Dispatch that I had an unsecured back door with no signs of forced entry.”
The report states that Roach then waited for an officer to get there for backup.
“I opened the back door and announced loudly ‘Cobb County Police!’ No one answered from within the residence and a large brown dog, which appeared to be 100 pounds plus, appeared from the right side of the door,” the report continues. “The dog began barking aggressively and started charging toward me.”
Roach states that he did not try to close the back door because it would have put him in an “immediate risk of danger from the unknown that was inside the residence.”
Gibson reportedly radioed dispatch notifying them of a “vicious animal.”
“While quickly retreating out of the patio, the large brown dog continued to charge toward me in an aggressive manner while continuously barking at me as he advanced on me,” Roach’s report states. “The large dog closed the distance between me and him in less than three seconds. I fired one round at the large dog and it continued charging me in an aggressive manner as if the dog’s main focus was attacking and harming me. I fired one more round at the large dog and it immediately collapsed falling to its left side in the grass.”
Gibson’s report states, “A dog began to bark and came at Officer Roach. Officer Roach shot the dog.”
However, King said he never heard the officers announce themselves, nor did he understand why they came to the back door of the home.
“I was (in my den) and I heard Luke bark and I said, ‘Luke come,’ as I was headed through the house and when I got into the kitchen. It all happened so fast and as soon as I said, ‘Luke come,’ I heard a pop, pop and as I was headed out the door, I said, ‘Oh God, please don’t shoot my dog,’” King said. “And Luke was laying there, gasping for air.”
In reference to the officer announcing himself, King said it is a “blatant lie!”
“I was standing right there,” he said. “When I heard (Luke) bark I headed (to the back) because I figured they had come around to the back door.”
King said Luke was a big dog with a “booming voice” but he didn’t recall his dog’s bark sounding aggressive right before the officer shot him.
“He’s done that to everybody who’s ever come to the door and if the officer had just stopped, Luke would have gone up to him and just sniffed him and probably would have gone and gotten a ball to fetch,” he said. “I know the (officer) didn’t know that but my point is, that he didn’t have to shoot my dog. He could have shot up in the air, mased him, kicked him, whatever he wanted to do, he wouldn’t have bit him.”
King also said that a portion of the police report that states someone had been bitten by Luke before was wrong.
In the report, it states that Cheryl Truelove told an investigator, “’That dog has bit me in the past,’ as she pointed to her left calf.”
When contacted about the statement, Truelove, who is King’s younger sister who lives next door to him, confirmed that the report was incorrect.
“I told the detective that three weeks ago I was dog bit by a Chihuahua,” she said over the phone Tuesday. “The reason I said that was because I was trying to point out to them that this little dog bit me and Luke never even bit nobody and I didn’t take out a gun and shoot this dog.”
Officer Mike Bowman with Cobb Police said he couldn’t speak about a possible incorrect portion of the report but in response to the entire incident, he said, “The officers involved followed proper protocol and were not in violation of Cobb County policy and procedures.”
He also said that the officer did announce himself because it is “standard operating procedure” for his department and that the reason Roach and Gibson entered the home from the back door is for officer’s safety.
“We are looking all around and we don’t want to be in a fatal funnel when we walk up to the front door so we approach from an angle … very good officer safety,” he said.
Bowman declined to say how long Roach had been on the force but said he is a “veteran officer.”
With the help of a friend, King buried Luke near the garden in his backyard late Sunday night.
“I haven’t been able to stop crying,” he said. “This was the hardest thing I ever had to do.”
King said he saved Luke, whose full name was Cool Hand Luke after the movie that starred the late Paul Newman, from an animal shelter in Eatonton when he was about six months old.
“He was the smartest, most gentle dog ever. He was my baby,” he said.
In an attempt to honor Luke, King has created a Facebook page, “RIP Baby Luke,” and posted the story on the Georgia Outdoors News website.