Dogs a threat to policeman

December 21, 1997

Dogs a threat to policeman


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Shots were fired, but no people or dogs were hurt Sunday afternoon when three pitbulls turned on a city police officer.

"I guess they saw me as a threat to their owner," Patrolman Paul Blackman said after the incident. It began at 2:50 p.m. on the 100 block of South Charles Street when Blackman saw a man and the three dogs chasing a pickup truck.

A city police report said the man chasing the pickup was trying to grab a man in the bed of the truck. The man in the truck, identified as Stephen Christian, 27, of Ranson, W.Va., jumped out of the truck and ran east on the 500 block of West Martin Street, the report said.


The dogs chased Christian onto the top of a parked vehicle and the man pursuing him, 27-year-old Darren Lamar Russ of Martinsburg, picked up a rock, according to the report. The report said Blackman got out of his cruiser, drew his weapon and ordered Russ to put down the rock.

Russ obeyed Blackman, but the report said the dogs turned on the officer. He fired once in their direction, but they continued to run toward him.

The report said he fired twice more at the dogs and they "ceased to be aggressive." Russ and another family member then got control of the canines.

The incident attracted several other officers to the scene and the report said witnesses told police Christian had threatened Russ with a large butcher knife at Russ's home on the 100 block of South Charles Street.

The knife was recovered by police, the report said.

Blackman acknowledged the incident was scary.

"That was the main thing, fear for my safety, because pitbulls are dangerous animals. I think they were trying to protect their owner," he said.

Blackman said he did not know what sparked the argument between the two men.

Russ was charged with disorderly conduct and leash law violations. Christian was charged with disorderly conduct and brandishing a weapon, according to the report.

Blackman did not know what happened to them, but an Eastern Regional Jail spokeswoman said neither was being held there.

The three dogs, however, were taken into custody by the city's animal control officer.

Christian's girlfriend was driving the truck, Blackman said, but she was not charged.

Even though the dogs had threatened him, Blackman said, "I'd hate to have killed an animal. That's not what I'm about."

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