A Broomfield man who fatally stabbed a pit bull after it attacked his Doberman won't be charged with animal cruelty because he was forced to make a "choice of evils," prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Jeff Black, 38, "was justified, according to the law, in his decision to take the life of (the pit bull) in order to save the life of his dog and avoid serious injuries to himself and others," according to the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which represents Broomfield and Adams counties.
Witnesses said Black fatally stabbed the pit bull with a pocketknife about 7:30 p.m. July 30 in the Broomfield County Commons dog park - near 136th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard - because it was attacking his pet.
Prosecutors also announced Tuesday that neither Black, the owner of "Spike" the Doberman, nor Benjamin Johnson, the owner of "Mac" the pit bull, will be charged with owning a dangerous dog because there was no history of either dog injuring another animal or human or displaying threatening behavior.
Although prosecutors said it's probable the pit bull's encounter with the Doberman would have deemed him a "dangerous dog," the pit bull was stabbed and killed before he could do enough harm to qualify him as dangerous.
Neither Black nor Johnson, 24, of Thornton, could be reached Tuesday for comment.
The men gave police different accounts of the incident, according to a Tuesday letter from the District Attorney's Office.
Black gave police the following report of the stabbing:
Spike, his Doberman, was running with other dogs when Mac joined in. The pit bull began "jumping and nipping" at the Doberman, eventually taking the Doberman to the ground. Johnson grabbed his pit bull by the legs, pulled him off and left the area.
Later, "the pit bull grabbed Spike's throat and flipped Spike onto Spike's back," Black told police.
A woman who saw the fight tried to separate the dogs, and Black said he "was afraid that she was going to be bitten."
Black said he stabbed Mac several times in the back when it appeared his dog couldn't breathe. Despite being stabbed, Mac held his grip on Spike.
"Since the stabs to the back of the pit bull had no apparent effect, Mr. Black cut the pit bull across the throat," District Attorney Don Quick wrote in the letter.
Johnson gave police this account of the incident:
The Doberman was first to attack the pit bull, causing "small and minor" injuries on his snout. When the Doberman approached Mac a second time, Mac "defended himself."
Johnson said he tried to pull his pit bull away, hitting him in the head. At one point, he said, he was pulling so hard that Mac's harness began to break.
Black, while trying to separate the dogs, threatened twice that "he was going to stab and kill my dog," Johnson told police. He then began stabbing the pit bull in the back.
Johnson said the dogs "were starting to loosen" when Johnson slit Mac's neck twice.
At least four people witnessed the dog fight. They told officers that the pit bull had displayed "aggressive behavior," and at one point they said Mac "rolled over" an Italian greyhound and urinated near another dog.
After the stabbing, one witness told police, "I do not believe that the Doberman would have lived if the pit had not been stabbed." Another said, "As horrible as it was to see, I think the man did the right thing stabbing the pit."
One of Johnson's friends called the fray "total chaos."
Mac died that day from multiple stab wounds to the neck. Spike was treated for bite wounds to his neck and snout.
Prosecutors said they decided not to file any charges because of the risk posed to individuals in the dog park.
"On the one hand, Mr. Black was faced with taking the life of Mac," Quick wrote in the decision. "On the other hand, by not stabbing the pit bull, he believed he would be allowing the death of Spike and running an ongoing risk of injury to himself or one of the others trying to separate the two dogs."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Vanessa Miller at 303-473-1329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.