Deputy Brad Ross killed the dog Sept. 17 at 2519 Karen St. while investigating complaints about roaming dogs.
Any firing of a deputy's service weapon initiates an internal investigation.
The dog's owner, Alli Knight, filed a complaint alleging the dog, 2-year-old Harlie, an English mastiff that weighed more than 160 pounds, was shot unnecessarily. She alleges that family members told her children were near the shooting and had been put in danger. Knight was not at home at the time of the shooting and didn't witness it herself.
Lafourche sheriff's Internal Affairs investigator Sgt. Rick Lorensen cleared Ross after watching a video recorded by the officer's dashboard camera, reviewing witness statements and conducting interviews, authorities said Friday.
But Knight said the family may pursue legal action.
“I disagree, and so do all the witnesses that were here,” Knight said. “They leave me no other option than to go to court.”
Ross went to the neighborhood after an English mastiff had been seen earlier in the day in a neighbor's yard exhibiting aggressive behavior, according to a Sheriff's Office report.
Knight's dog ran at Ross, forcing him to take evasive action to avoid being bitten, according to Sheriff's Office reports. Ross lost his footing and landed on his knees, and the dog allegedly came at him again. The officer then fired two shots at the dog, who was about 1 to 2 feet from him, the report says. The dog was hit in the leg and left abdomen.
Harlie was taken to Thibodaux Animal Hospital and later to a veterinary facility at LSU in Baton Rouge, where she had to be put to death at the owner's request due to her injuries.
Knight said Harlie was lovable and had never bitten anyone.
In earlier interviews, family members who said they watched the situation unfold disagreed with the sheriff's deputy's version. The officer saw the dog in the driveway as he was approaching and had plenty of time to get back into the car if he felt threatened, they said. They told The Courier and the Daily Comet they did not see the officer fall.
Two of Alli Knight's children and her brother Damon Knight's son witnessed the shooting. Knight said that they were less than 20 feet away when the officer shot the dog.
“The video clearly shows when the deputy made the decision to use deadly force shots were fired toward a nearby wooded area and away from any inhabitants of the residence,” Lorensen said.
There is no footage of the dog being shot or the children at the scene, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The dashboard video, released Friday by the Sheriff's Office, shows Ross walking from his car. The dog appears on screen, lunges at Ross and chases him off screen. One of the gun's shells is visible bouncing off the windshield of the deputy's car. One casing was recovered on the car, and the other beside the car, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lesley Hill Peters.
Hill Peters said other witnesses interviewed at the scene who are not family members of the Knights matched the officer's story.
“The video does not bear (the Knight family's) version of events out,” Hill Peters said.
“While certainly unfortunate, I am confident that our deputies continue to display restraint, especially in the use of deadly force,” Sheriff Craig Webre said in a news release. “This incident should be a reminder to all residents that responsible pet ownership necessitates proper supervision and restraint of all animals.”
The Sheriff's Office has responded to 35 dog-bite cases since Aug. 8, Webre added.
“In some of those instances, the pet reacted in his own environment,” he said. “But in many other cases, the incident could have been prevented if the pet owner had taken proper precautions.”