Dexter Betts, a former Wichita police officer, has been charged with felony aggravated battery.
The charges were filed March 20 according to documents. The document states Betts, “unlawfully and recklessly cause bodily harm to another person.”
Back on December 30, officers were called to a home in the 1500 block of N. Gentry for a domestic dispute and suicidal person. While officers were inside the home, they retrieved a gun from under a bedroom pillow. During that time, a mid-sized dog charged at an officer.
Betts allegedly fired his gun and shot at the dog. The shot missed the dog. The bullet ricocheted and struck a 9-year-old girl in the forehead just above her eye.
A court summons orders Betts to appear on April 11.
Betts’ attorney says his actions that day were consistent with the police department’s standards, while the family’s attorney says the charge is fair under the circumstances.
However, attorney Charles O’Hara says an aggravated battery charge against Betts is appropriate.
“Obviously, in these cases there’s always a concern, I think there is all over the nation that when people are police officers they may be treated differently than us the general public would be in the same instance.”
Betts’ attorney says the injury to the child was extremely regrettable, but it was an accident and goes on to say “Mr. Betts’ actions were not reckless and we look forward to presenting his defense in court. It is imperative people not prejudge before they have all the facts.”
Michael Birzer, a criminal justice professor at WSU says he’s been following the incident, and says for an officer to use force on an animal posing a threat, he or she needs to make sure people nearby won’t be impacted.
“You use firearm in shooting animal you do that in manner that you ensure that persons in area won’t be impacted by shot or things of that nature so you gotta do that in a safe manner and you got to take that into consideration,” said Birzer.
Birzer said he couldn’t recall a similar incident to this in Wichita and O’Hara agreed.
“For sure in recent history, a police man involved in a shooting while on duty involving an incident like this I don’t think has been charged, there’s been some other things that have been charged but not anything like this,” said O’Hara.
O’Hara also stated that he thinks the public should be able to see the police video connected to this incident so the public can make up their own minds on the case.
KSN did reach out to the Wichita Police Department for comment and we have yet to hear back.