weather icon Mostly Clear

False residential alarm leads to fatal shooting of dog in Nye County

For Pahrump resident Gary Miller, April 10 of this year is a day he will never forget.

Miller’s longtime companion, Blu, a 6-year-old pit-bull-mix breed, was shot and killed by a Nye County Sheriff’s deputy responding to a residential alarm on the 2700 block of Our Road where Miller resides.

Miller had owned Blu since the dog was just 5 months old.

Nye County dispatchers received a call from a residential alarm company advising that seven panic alarms had been activated within a short amount of time at the residence at 4:23 p.m., a sheriff’s office news release said.

The responding deputy arrived at the home to handle what was considered an emergency situation.

Upon arrival, the deputy entered the fenced property and approached the residence in order to come to the assistance of the home’s occupant.

“As the deputy knocked on the door, the resident’s dog suddenly charged the deputy from another location on the property and attempted to attack him,” the release stated. “Fearing for his safety and due to the rapidly-evolving threat from the aggressive animal, the deputy drew his firearm and discharged it at the dog to protect himself.”

As a result, the animal sustained a severe gunshot injury, which immediately ended the threat to the deputy’s safety.

Shortly thereafter, the release stated Miller exited his home and made contact with the deputy.

“The subsequent investigation revealed that the multiple panic alarms had been falsely activated within the home and no actual emergency existed,” the release also stated. “Additionally, the property did not have any posted warning signs for an aggressive dog. The deputy was not injured during the incident.”

A Nye County Animal Control officer was summoned to the scene and transported the wounded dog to a local veterinary clinic, where it was eventually euthanized due to the severity of its injuries.”

Alternate account, false alarm

Miller, meanwhile, provided a much different point of view of the events leading up to the shooting.

He said his in-home security system was sending panic alarm signals to the monitoring company, which in turn notified the sheriff’s office and himself.

He said no emergency situation existed at the time, as the alarm was eventually deemed false.

“Upon receiving my abort code, the monitoring company notified the sheriff’s office that it was a confirmed false alarm,” he said. “The panic alarm is a silent signal, and I wasn’t aware of it until the monitoring company notified me. Since I gave them the abort code and assured them that I was OK, I didn’t expect a sheriff’s office response.”

Nonetheless, after a deputy arrived on the scene, Miller said he heard knocking on his front door, when seconds later, he heard gunfire.

“I went to answer the door, but just before reaching the door, I heard the shots,” he recalled. “I immediately opened my door and the deputy was screaming for me to show him my hands. I was dressed in shorts and a tanktop and my hands were clearly visible, but the deputy kept screaming for me to show him my hands. I realized that he had shot Blu, my best friend and companion, since I live alone.”

Different accounts of same story

Miller also said the deputy told him the dog was in attack mode.

“I told him that Blu was not aggressive and the deputy said that he was barking and growling at him,” he said. “…Blu did not attack this officer, and his body-cam video shows that Blu was casually running up to the deputy to see who had come to visit, and maybe he had treats, because my friends all bring Blu dog biscuits or treats when they come over.”

Additionally, Miller said the deputy fired multiple shots at the dog.

“After the first two shots missed, Blu turned away and the deputy shot him in the head from the side,” Miller said. “How is it that Blu was attacking when he wasn’t even facing the deputy when the deputy shot him?”

After doing some research, Miller said he learned the state of Nevada requires all law enforcement officers to take a training course to learn procedures for encountering dogs.

Out for justice

Gina Greisen, president of Nevada Voters For Animals, called the situation “totally outrageous.”

“The Department of Justice’s Community-Oriented Policing Services, or (COPS), puts out free training material, which is what is on the website for the law enforcement post-certification,” Greisen said. “This was completely unjustified …”

Additionally, Greisen said law enforcement officers are provided training videos on how to approach and handle a situation involving animals on private property.

“On the dog training video, they show you, from start to finish how to approach a house, how to shake the gate, how to put something between you and the dog,” she said. “They also tell you to turn sideways and not to stare at the dog. You can use pepper spray or a Taser.”

Greisen said she wants the deputy fired.

Sheriff responds

In a news release, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly did not dispute the audio picked up by the body cam.

She did, however, say that the situation is under investigation.

“Immediately upon reviewing the body camera footage, I started an internal affairs investigation into the actions that occurred that day,” she said. “The investigation is continuing and I can assure you, appropriate action will be taken by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office upon the completion of the investigation.”

Wehrly also noted that she sympathizes with Miller’s loss.

“I am committed to ensuring all contacts with the public and their pets are appropriate and within the scope of training that the deputies have received,” she said. “I have been an animal owner my entire adult life and sympathize with Mr. Miller on the loss of his family pet. I do not take this loss lightly.”

Additionally, the sheriff said the incident highlights exactly why she’s been dedicated to ensuring all sheriff’s deputies wear body cams while on duty.

“Video of this incident demonstrates exactly how body-worn camera footage allows me, the sheriff, to see exactly what took place and take appropriate action,” she said.

The deputy “was provided immediate remedial training prior to his return to patrol responsibilities to ensure his interactions with the public and their pets are appropriate while an investigation is being conducted,” Wehrly said. “I hold my employees to a high standard in the way they interact with the public and do not take the shooting or my staff’s subsequent actions and conversation lightly.”

Wehrly said following the investigation, she will take appropriate action against any individuals found to have acted in a manner not consistent with the standards they are expected to satisfy within the confines of the law.

“Upon the conclusion of the investigation, I will release the results of that investigation and actions that were taken.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
TOWN HALL: Assemblyman Hafen talks voter ID bill, solar energy, parking perks for veterans

Nevada Assemblyman Greg Hafen II (R-Pahrump) hosted his first Live Town Hall of the 2023 Legislative Session last month, discussing a wide variety of topics with his constituents, including solar farms, his proposed voter ID requirement, a veterans’ bill he is sponsoring and more.

Dishwasher saves choking diner at Pahrump Senior Center

Adrienne Fors says she was eating pork and rice when she literally bit off more than she could chew. “When I tried to swallow, it went down my throat and then then it got caught with the curve of my throat. Thank goodness Troy was there to do the Heimlich on me.”

Ruling: Former Nye County commissioner benefited from his vote to increase pandemic-relief funds

The Nevada State Ethics Commissions found earlier this week that former Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo had failed to disclose his financial interests ahead of a vote to increase pandemic-relief funds to local small business owners. He benefited about $35,000 from the deal, according to the finding of a state ethics panel.

Celebrate life at this popular butterfly release

The event is sponsored by Nathan Adelson Hospice and comforts those who are grieving the loss of a loved ones.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Basin and Blagg intersection closure starts Monday

The construction currently underway on Basin Avenue has been focused on the intersection at Blagg Road for the last few weeks and Nye County Public Works will soon have that intersection back to full use but first, the department will need to close it to regular traffic, a fact which area motorists will want to take note.

SNEAK PEEK: Go inside ‘The Bagel Lady’s’ new Pahrump shop – PHOTOS

Shelly Fisher AKA “The Bagel Lady” is opening Shelly’s NY Bagels on March 25. Fisher has customized the corner suite at 1190 E. Highway 372 and will serve breakfast and lunch there. She tells the Pahrump Valley Times how the local community has helped grow her operation and gave our Faye Burdzinski and John Clausen an inside look at her new operation.

Pahrump fugitive arrested after months on the run

Anthony Bell evaded a SWAT-team standoff earlier this month. Footage shows the suspect brandished a rifle outside Pahrump casino following a fight in December.

LOVE FADING: See what’s become of the notorious Love Ranch brothel – PHOTOS

A year after the Love Ranch sold as part of a $1.3-million acquisition of 23 properties that included this Nye County brothel where NBA star Lamar Odom was famously found passed out from an apparent drug overdose, there’s been little effort to reopen or restore the iconic site. Photojournalist John Clausen went inside to “show us the Love.”