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A man killed Sunday in a police operation involving a K9 has been identified by relatives as Joseph Pettaway.
Pettaway’s family on Tuesday said the 51-year-old died after the police dog attacked him inside a Cresta Circle home. State Bureau of Investigation Captain Joe Herman said preliminary autopsy results indicate Pettaway died from “an accidental death as a result of a ruptured femoral artery.”
Montgomery police said Sunday the man was believed to have been burglarizing a Cresta Circle home when the homeowner approved a K9 unit entry.
“That’s somebody child, somebody’s family,” Pettaway’s sister Yvonne Pettaway-Frazier said Tuesday. “I don’t care what a person is doing, they don’t deserve to go that way. It’s not right to take somebody’s life like that.”
Less than 24 hours after Pettaway’s death, the Cresta Circle home burned in a house fire Montgomery fire officials said caused “total loss.”
Montgomery Fire/Rescue Lt. Jason Cupps on Wednesday said investigators believe the someone intentionally set the fire, though an investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made.
Investigators said the blaze occurred after the K9 scene was fully processed.
“My agents had completed the scene processing well before the fire occurred,” SBI Capt. Joe Herman said. “In no way did the fire have any affect on our ongoing investigation.”
Police on Sunday said they responded to a burglary-in-progress call. Pettaway’s family is seeking answers, though, as they say he frequently visited the home and wouldn’t have a reason to break in.
Pettaway was well-known in the neighborhood. His mother lives less than a block away, and all 10 of his brothers and sisters still live in the area.
“They knew him. He’d be over there every day,” Pettaway-Frazier said.
Alabama’s State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an external review of the incident, which is normal protocol after lethal police operations.
“We’re investigating this as a use-of-force investigation as we normally would,” Herman said.
MPD Capt. Regina Duckett on Monday confirmed the handler was placed on paid administrative leave, and the police dog is under quarantine at a city kennel.
When asked if the police dog’s handler entered the home with the dog, Duckett said that information would be part of SBI’s ongoing investigation. It’s unknown how long the dog could potentially remain in quarantine.
“Joseph had a fear of dogs,” Pettaway-Frazier said. “He didn’t like any dogs, even puppies. He had a real fear of dogs.”
Pettaway’s death Sunday is the third this year connected to Montgomery police operations. In February, an officer shot and killed a man after a police officer was shot on Westcott Street.
In May, an officer shot and killed a woman on Kiwanis Street. Police said a two-officer unit was responding to a stolen vehicle call when the driver accelerated, dragging one officer under the car.
Both officers were placed on administrative leave. Officers typically remain on leave until the State Bureau of Investigation concludes an external investigation.
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