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Former sheriff says lies and cover-up evident in deadly Nye County dog shooting

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-19 16:21:19-04

Lies, distortion of facts and failure to follow police procedure. 

That's what a former top cop sees in the body cam video of a Nye County deputy using deadly force against a family's dog. 

It's a story thatfirst broke the story last week

The story continues as even those in law enforcement say more needs to be done to hold the deputy accountable.

Deputy John Tolle's deadly shots fired at a family dog named Blu have become the shots heard round the world. 

Comments and concerns over the deputy's actions have come from as far as England and Australia. 

But for one man, it hits very close to home.

"There's issues here that I'm very troubled with. What the heck is going on with this deputy?"

Tony DeMeo is a former three-term sheriff of Nye County. He's also a certified master police K9 trainer.

After watching Dep. Tolle on body cam fire four shots that ultimately ended Blu's life, DeMeo said, "The dog was coming to see what was going on. That's the dog's job. There's nothing in the dog's bark that's aggressive. It's not in attack mode. I mean basically, the dog was just jogging up. I can't imagine that this dog would have been a threat to the deputy."

As for Deputy Tolle's perception of events, Former Sheriff DeMeo points to how many times his story changes as he talks to the dog owner, a sergeant and a detective on the body cam video.

"How many stories did he come up with in seven minutes of an incident?" DeMeo asks.

Story #1: He's attacking me!

Story #2: Well, he was barking and growling like he was coming to bite me.

Story #3: He was like coming full on at me, growling and snarling and damn near trying to attack me.

And in a newly released report obtained by Contact 13, Deputy Tolle writes, "The dog began growling and showing teeth as it began running and charging towards me."

"Is the deputy now lying to cover up the actions and try to justify what he did?" DeMeo asks. "Or does he have a distorted interpretation of the facts? Which is more troubling?"

DeMeo is also troubled by what he calls a failure to follow proper police procedure when Dep. Tolle responds to what turned out to be false panic alarms at Gary Miller's Pahrump home.

"Do we got a phone number for inside the residence?" Tolle can be heard saying on the body cam.

"When he asked for a phone number, he should have had dispatch call into the residence. If they didn't have the number, the alarm company had the number."

No one from the sheriff's office called into the residence. 

And Tolle responds to an unknown situation alone, even though back-up is on the way. 

He goes in with his gun drawn.

"If he had his firearm in his holster," DeMeo says, "then he could have used other forms of less than lethal force.  He could have used a taser, could have used a baton to ward the dog off, could have used the OC (pepper) spray. Could have actually used verbal and told the dog, 'No!'"

We questioned Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly about why Deputy Tolle didn't do any of that.

"He rapped on the door gently to try to get somebody to come to the door. And then he stood back. Well, the dog heard him. But he didn't want to give away his position so he didn't speak real loud to the dog." 

"If you're knocking on the door, you're giving away your position," DeMeo observed.

He says Deputy Tolle's actions make him a possible threat to people too, and says the department's internal investigation leaves much to be desired.

"Issues weren't taken care of properly and they were just pushed to the side. I think in this case they didn't expect this type of attention. And now they're playing catch-up because the investigation was not done properly."

The sheriff's office closed and then re-opened and expanded its internal investigation after our reports began airing

We wanted to ask more questions of Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, but her office sent the following statement:

"The sheriff is declining further interviews or comment on this incident. As stated in the press release on June 12, Sheriff Wehrly has launched an internal investigation into the actions that occurred that day. That investigation is continuing. The Sheriff has also asked that the Peace Officer Review Board review the entire OIS fatal dog incident. The sheriff wants to assure the public that appropriate action will be taken by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office after the investigation is complete."