WISE COUNTY, Va. - What started as Wise County Sheriff's Office deputies serving a warrant ended in gunfire Saturday, and now a homeowner's dog is dead.
Paul Carico treated his pit bull De'Ja like a daughter. "My dog was like a family member. I mean, we loved her. I love her," he says.
Now, he's heartbroken after he says De'Ja was unfairly shot and killed by a Wise County Sheriff's Office deputy.
Carico says he was home Saturday when he heard De'Ja barking. When he opened the front door to check it out, several deputies stood outside looking to serve a warrant. "I saw these cops and I told them I didn't know the person they were looking for," he says.
Carico claims an officer charged toward the front door, which is when De'Ja got territorial. "He came with a threatening approach up my steps, and the dog was not going to stand for that, she got by me," he says.
Police would not release dash cam footage that recorded the shooting, but News 5 did get to watch it. What we saw was De'Ja run at the deputy, and it also showed Carico begging the deputy not to shoot. "I'm crawling trying to get my dog. Before I could get out of the grass, he'd already fired and shot her," Carico says.
The deputy shot De'Ja in the back, and her legs went flailing in the air. "When they shot her, I couldn't bear the thought of her just laying there in the dirt. I picked her up and carried her over, and I put her on a four-wheeler trailer," he says.
Virginia State Police First Sergeant Geoffrey Lewis says the deputy did what he needed to do to protect himself.
But Carico says his dog, who has never bit anyone, didn't deserve to die. Now all he has left of De'Ja is a shell casing and a burial site just a few feet away from where she was shot.
Virginia State Police say the deputies made multiple verbal commands for Carico to call off the pit bull. When De'Ja continued to charge, the deputy fired at the animal.