Police: Officer’s actions during dog attack were ‘lawful and necessary’

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — An officer responding to a dog attack on Titus Lane Tuesday night was forced to shoot and kill the two aggressive dogs after they turned on him, according to Warwick police.

Police said in a news release Wednesday that their initial investigation determined Officer John Zaborski’s actions “were lawful and necessary to protect the lives of citizens and him[self] from serious bodily injury.”

The incident began around 6 p.m. Tuesday when police said one dog escaped from its owner’s yard and attacked a man, identified as 57-year-old Robert Joyal, who was out walking his dog. A second dog then got involved.

According to Wednesday’s news release, the dogs – described by police as pit bulls – were still attacking the man and his smaller dog when Officer Zaborski arrived on scene. When Zaborski approached, police said both dogs went after him. Zaborski stunned one of the attacking canines with his Taser, but he had no time to subdue the other aggressive dog using non-lethal means. Fearing himself or bystanders could get hurt, police said the Zaborski killed the second dog with two shots from his service weapon.

Police said Officer Zaborski went to tend to Joyal and the smaller dog, but the dog he had Tased revived and resumed its attack. The officer tried to fight off the dog, which police said kept lunging and biting at him. With no other option, police said the officer fired two more shots.

Police said Zaborski was not hurt. Joyal was taken to Rhode Island Hospital to be treated for dog bites.

Warwick police said they were still investigating Wednesday, and asked anyone who saw the initial attack or the officer’s use of lethal force to call the department’s Professional Standards Division at 401-468-4200.