Columbus woman says former sheriff killed her dog; police say it was self-defense

(Provided Photo/Broughton Family)

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH)—Columbus police say they don’t expect anyone to face charges after a former councilman and sheriff shot and killed a woman’s dog this week.

The story was first reported by 24-Hour News 8’s partners at the Columbus Republic.

Former Bartholomew County Sheriff Ken Whipker says he acted in self-defense and police say they believe him.

He says Betty Broughton’s German shepherd bit his beagle twice, but Broughton says that’s not what happened.

“He wasn’t violent. He didn’t hurt anybody,” Broughton said.

She said she adopted the one-year-old dog, named Axle, about two months ago.

Axle got out of Broughton’s home Monday afternoon and ran down the street. She said she went after him and saw Whipker trying to pull his dog away, with both dogs growling.

“(Axle) was probably trying to play with the dog,” Broughton said.

Broughton said Whipker first warned that he’d shoot Axle, and then did exactly that.

“I keep having nightmares and I just keep waking up thinking he’s going to be there and he’s not,” Broughton said.

Broughton and her roommate said Broughton had control of Axle when Whipker fired and they never saw the two dogs touch.

But Whipker said Axle bit his dog twice.

Columbus police said a witness saw the dogs fighting. Police also added that another witness said Axle was “aggressive and growling” and “continued to go after the small dog.”

“We want to try to get a complete picture of what occurred and not jump to any conclusions,” Columbus Police Department Lt. Matt Harris said.

Whipker is now an executive director with the Indiana Department of Corrections.

He said he first tried to get between the two dogs but couldn’t. In a phone call Wednesday, Whipker described himself as “an animal lover.”

“I’m the type of person who, when I see a dog in the yard, I’m talking to it,” Whipker said. “I’m heartsick that I had to shoot a dog, but I don’t blame the animal. I have to put some of the responsibility on the owners.”

Police say a city ordinance allows citizens to fire a gun only in self-defense to protect their life or property.

Whipker served as sheriff from 1999 to 2006 and as councilman from 2013 to 2015.

If you have any information on the case, you’re asked to call Columbus Police at (812) 376-2600.