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Police ID officer who shot dog during standoff with suspect

Casey Grove

Anchorage police say officers negotiated for 40 minutes with a man wanted on warrants Friday night in Sand Lake before the man released an aggressive dog, which an officer shot.

The wounded pit bull was later euthanized.

A police spokesman says it was the officer's second use of deadly force in seven months with the Anchorage Police Department.

According to police, it started when Lydell Butler, 22, sent a text message Friday to a woman who had a restraining order against him, police said. Court records showed Butler was wanted on a felony warrant for a burglary charge and one misdemeanor warrant for assault. Several officers went to an apartment on Bearfoot Circle about 6:20 p.m. to talk to Butler.

Butler tried to flee out a back door, but he retreated inside and refused to come out, police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said.

Officers surrounded Butler's apartment and evacuated an adjacent unit, Parker said. The officers started talking to Butler through the apartment windows, and they could see a pit bull inside, the police spokesman said. But Butler apparently ignored the officers' orders to put the dog in a kennel. He eventually let the snarling, "vicious" dog outside and it tried twice to bite an officer, Parker said.

Officer Bryan Heinz shot the dog to protect himself and the other officers, Parker said. Butler was ultimately arrested and charged with assault, resisting arrest and violating a domestic violence restraining order. Officers found the wounded dog on a neighbor's porch, and veterinarians later decided they needed to euthanize it, the police spokesman said.

It's unclear if the dog belonged to Butler or someone else.

Heinz, who graduated from the police department's academy in April, was one of two officers armed with shotguns who shot and killed Harry Smith in a July standoff with Smith, who had an air pistol, at Smith's Jewel Lake house, police said. The state Department of Law's Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals deemed the fatal shooting justified.

As in all cases in which an officer discharges a firearm in the line of duty, the Friday shooting of the pit bull will be investigated by the police department's Internal Affairs Unit, Parker said. The police spokesman said the case had not been forwarded to the Office of Special Prosecutions for further review.

"This was a situation where he had to basically preserve his welfare and the welfare of his fellow officers, so he stepped up to the plate and shot the dog," Parker said.

When asked if it was unusual for an on-duty officer to fire a weapon twice in the first seven months on the force, Parker said Heinz works a particularly busy night shift that tends to have a lot of activity.

"That's kind of the luck of the draw and the roll of the dice," Parker said. "I didn't say that it wasn't unusual, but that's not to say it's not anticipated."

"There's no rhyme or reason to that happening," he said "You can't anticipate it. You just have to be ready for it."


Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.