Two independent investigations conclude officers justified in the shooting of two dogs on I84

Heyburn Police Department held press conference on Friday at Heyburn City Hall
The investigation into the shooting of the two dogs on Interstate 84 in Minidoka County back in May of this year, has been completed by two separate agencies.
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 8:35 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The investigation into the shooting of the two dogs on Interstate 84 in Minidoka County back in May of this year, has been completed by two separate agencies, and both report that officers were justified in their actions.

The Heyburn Police Department held a press conference on Friday afternoon, August 11th to maintain transparency on the issue of whether the officers involved were justified in their actions on May 27th, after a complaint was filed.

Heyburn Police Chief Ryan Bertalotto had requested that the Jerome Police Department, as well as the Twin Falls Prosecuting Attorney’s Office conduct two separate internal investigations into the matter. The complaint alleges that the officers involved, engaged in cruelty to animals and the use of force for discharging a police officer issued weapon on I84 eastbound near milepost 213 that killed two dogs running at-large.

The two dogs, that had escaped out of their enclosure while their owners were out of town, had traffic at a standstill at the start of the Memorial Day weekend while traffic was just beginning to peak at 5:50 p.m. The investigation also highlighted that the officers involved, along with a stopped motorist, did try to get the dogs off the roadway and into their vehicles but the dogs were not responding to the officers or the motorist, to allow them to be caught safely. Both independent reports state that evidence supports the Heyburn Officer’s belief that the dogs posed an immediate threat to the safety of those driving vehicles in both lanes of travel.

Twin Falls Prosecuting Attorney Grant Loebs wrote in his report that “because the dogs posed a threat to persons and property as specifically and clearly defined in Idaho Code 25-3514, probable cause does not exist to support criminal charges against the Heyburn Officer for shooting the dogs.”

The reports from the Jerome Police Department and from Loebs office both say that the loss of a beloved family pet is tragic, and it would have been better if a different solution to this situation had been implemented, however that tragedy would have been compounded had the dogs caused an accident on the interstate that would have led to the loss of human life.

Chief Beralotto said, “I want to thank the Jerome Police, the Minidoka County Prosecuting Attorney, and the Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney for their diligence in pursuing the investigation of a difficult matter. "

Beralotto went on to say “the process was thorough and professional. I appreciate the Minidoka County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho State Police, and the Idaho Criminal Intelligence Center for lending resources and for ongoing collaboration and support. I also thank the residents of Heyburn for trusting in our commitment to serving our community in the best way possible -- meeting community expectations while maintaining the safety of our citizens and officers.”

City of Heyburn Mayor Dick Galbraith said, “The Mayor’s office and City Council recognize the effect the incident and subsequent investigation have had on our community. We trust that the officers of the Heyburn Police Department will continue to serve our citizens with the utmost care and that they remain committed to keeping our community safe.”

The incident caused outrage among animal rights groups statewide and around the region.