Body cam footage released recently by Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett shows a police shooting which resulted in the wounding of a 9-year-old girl and the family dog as officers responded to a domestic dispute and suicide call, according to CBS News.
The initial portion showing officers entering the residence is silent, with audio picking up as they enter the home. Inside, they find four children in the living room and a 35-pound English bull terrier with black and white markings. The children are crying but the dog appears to be silent. As officers check the home for the parties to the alleged domestic dispute, finding nobody, the officer wearing the body cam returns to the living room before turning to go down another hallway.
“OK. We’ve got a dog inside here, too,” the officer says with a slight chuckle. The dog starts barking, agitated, and two gunshots are fired by Officer Dexter Betts, the officer which appears to be behind the body cam. The dog disappears, silent, and the young girl starts shrieking.
“Ow! Ow! You hurt my eye! Ow! Ow!” the child cries, wounded by a bullet fragment which had ricocheted and struck her in the forehead above her right eye.
Officer Betts then tells the children to get out. When questioned over the police radio as to what had just happened, Bett’s attempts to explain: “Dog inside attacked us.”
When officers had arrived on scene regarding the suicide call, in which the mother of the young girl had told 911 that her husband was in the bedroom with a gun in his mouth, they found the man unarmed and standing in the driveway with his hands up. On scene were Betts and another unnamed officer. That is when the body cam footage, and the dreadful scene which occurred shortly thereafter, began.
Betts has since been charged with one count of aggravated battery, a level 8 felony, for the affair. He has entered a not guilty plea in preliminary hearings that are also partially responsible for the public release of the body cam footage.
The footage was withheld from the media until it was presented in open court and was released to the media on the decision of the Sedgwick County District Attorney.
This case is widely believed to be the first time in two decades where a member of Wichita’s law enforcement arm faces criminal charges for a serious on-duty shooting which resulted in an injury or death.
At Betts’ hearing last week, the DA argued that Betts acted recklessly and showed a lack of care for the girl’s life when he discharged his weapon twice at the dog, failing to judge the distance from the girl and lacking a clear background. Betts’ defense counsel disagreed, stating that the officer “acknowledged the danger” of a charging dog and acted quickly in response.
While the felony case continues, there have already been significant repercussions for the officer in question. Betts was fired by the Wichita Police Department on January 25 of this year, according to The Wichita Eagle.