Three police officers are on administrative leave after a botched investigation led to the shooting of an unarmed man and the killing of his dog. Officers in Atlanta’s DeKalb County, responded to a report of a ‘suspicious individual’ but went to the wrong house. When they found an unlocked screen and back door, they entered the home, only to be met by a barking dog and the homeowner. Chris McKinley, the homeowner, was shot as was the dog and one of the officers.
McKinley, who is white, has no idea why he or his dog were shot. All three police officers were Black. And it’s not the first time a similar incident has happened in the same county.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is sifting through information to get answers in this case as DeKalb officials and others in law enforcement cite the current challenges officers face.
“Are we perfect?” DeKalb director of public safety Cedric Alexander said. “Absolutely not. But when we find a mistake, we own it. We own the fact that we were at the wrong house. We didn’t hide it. We didn’t mismanage it. We were at the wrong location based on information that was given to us.”
The officers, however, stopped at Chris and Leah McKinley’s home — the second house on the street — because it matched the “physical description” given, according to a release from the GBI.
The officers went to the rear of the home, onto the screened-in porch and through a “reportedly unlocked rear door,” the GBI said.
According to neighbors, that’s when Chris McKinley — who’d been watching a movie called “Serendipity” with his wife and 1-year-old — walked into the room with his dog. Authorities said two of the officers opened fire after they “encountered a dog.”
“He says, ‘I opened the door to see what the dogs were barking at, and I see black uniforms and I hear pop-pop-pop-pop’,” Colson said, relaying McKinley’s words.
McKinley, 36, was shot in the leg, and his dog, a female boxer, was killed. One of the officers — identified Tuesday afternoon as Travis Jones — was shot in the hip by a colleague, the GBI said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jones (pictured) was in “serious but stable condition” at Grady Memorial Hospital, officials said. He and the other two officers involved in the incident — Quhanna Lloyd (pictured) and Timothy Harden (pictured) — have been placed on paid administrative leave, DeKalb officials said.
Jones has been with DeKalb police since November, the GBI said. Lloyd and Harden have worked for the department since 2007 and 2010, respectively.
It was not immediately clear which officers fired shots Monday.
Interim DeKalb police Chief James Conroy said the incident has prompted the county to review its when-to-shoot training protocol — but he also said police have difficulties when people call 911 from cellphones but aren’t able to provide an accurate address.
“Without getting into the specifics of this case, that’s one of the challenges when people call 911, we often don’t know where they are,” Conroy said. “We want officers to go out and investigate crimes like this rather than react. We want to go out and actually apprehend criminals and help people.”
Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May said it’s “always concerning when there’s a police-involved shooting,” and called the GBI’s review of the incident appropriate.
Alexander, meanwhile, asked the public to let the investigation into Monday’s shooting run its course.
“None of us should be speculating or assuming anything at this point,” he said. “There needs to be an investigation. There was a police officer who was severely injured and had a great deal of blood lost. We’re going to continue to pray for the officer and the homeowner.”