CINCINNATI — Gia, a nearly 2-year-old silver lab, is totally blind in her left eye after owner Colin Barge said she was unintentionally shot by a Cincinnati police officer during the Bockfest 5K race in Over-The-Rhine nearly three weeks ago.
CPD said an officer fired two shots at a pit bull that attacked Gia. The dog was declared dead at an animal hospital.
Barge said the officer was within two feet of the dogs when he opened fire. He also said an x-ray showed one of the officer's rounds was found in Gia's left eye socket, causing her to lose vision in her eye.
The department determined the shooting was a justified use of deadly force.
"The pit bull would not have stopped until (Gia) was dead," Barge said in his first interview since the March 4 incident.
Barge said he held Gia on her leash as they stood on a sidewalk watching runners in the 5K. An unleashed pit bull raced toward them, according to Barge, who said about five people tried unsuccessfully to pull the pit bull off Gia.
"She's screaming trying to pull away," Barge said. "The pit bull has her, it's latched on to her face shaking."
Barge said the pit bull also bit his hand.
A CPD officer ran over to them and determined he needed to use deadly force to stop the dog attack.
"He shot the off-leash dog the first time and it still did not let go of Gia," Barge said. "That's when he shot it a second time, which was effective at finally getting the dog to let go of her."
CPD said the shooting was not recorded on police body cameras. On Wednesday, the department released body camera video recorded after the shooting.
The footage shows one witness, who told police she volunteered with a pit bull rescue program, say the pit bull was not threatening when first approaching Barge's dog. She said Gia snapped at the pit bull and the pit bull responded.
But Barge insisted it was an "unprovoked attack."
Gia is recovering. About a week and a half after the shooting, Barge said Gia was taking up to three walks a day. She's also getting some of her personality back.
Barge said he does not question the officer's decision to shoot at the pit bull even though one of those rounds left Gia blind in one eye.
"I believe he saved her life," said Barge.