Ex-Englewood councilman's racoon encounter causes stir

Yates kills animal; says it attacked his dog


A former Englewood city councilmember injured and killed a raccoon after the animal attacked his dog, according to his account of the incident that left one nearby resident concerned enough to call police.

Steve Yates chased the raccoon into a neighbor's yard and “pinned the animal down” with a long object while it let out cries for 10 to 20 minutes, according to an area resident's account in an Englewood police report.

The resident yelled to ask Yates what he was doing, and he replied that the raccoon had attacked his dog, the report says.

The animal's cries began around 10 p.m. July 27, and the resident called out to Yates around that time, according to the report. The cries eventually ended, but around 10:30 p.m., the resident heard the raccoon cry out again “for a short time and then stop,” the report says.

Neighbors were “very upset toward Yates,” the resident said, according to the report. Dispatch received a call from another area resident related to the incident on July 29, but that caller did not have firsthand knowledge of the situation. Based on the report, there appeared to be only one witness to the incident, and that resident did not want to testify in court about it, the report says.

The former councilmember pinned the raccoon to the ground with a pipe, the report says.

Yates told the Englewood Herald he was in his yard with his two dogs when two raccoons approached and engaged in a confrontation with one of the dogs.

“The racoon's biting my dog, the dog's defending itself — I'm panicking, I have bare feet, no cellphone, no weapons of any kind,” Yates said. He added: “There happened to be a copper pipe that I picked up, and when I got over there, I saw that there's two raccoons. One was attacking my dog. The other one was being held by the dog at that point.”

Yates took the pipe and swung at one of the raccoons to shoo it away, and “it came back like five times,” Yates said.

Eventually, that raccoon left, but the other raccoon was biting the dog, Yates said. With the pipe, Yates pinned the raccoon's shoulder to the ground, he said.

“So now I'm standing there, a foot away from a raccoon that was very pissed off, holding it to the ground, and I'm like, what do I do? If I release it, it's either going to attack me or the dog. By this time, the raccoon's pretty injured. So if I was to just release it, that would be really cruel because it would have died at that time, but … quite a while afterward,” Yates said.

Yates said it took “a little while to kill” the raccoon, adding that he guesses the incident lasted about 15 minutes. He described the incident as “a bad situation” where he had no one to help him. His wife wasn't there at the time, Yates said.

Yates "stated he took care of what he needed to to protect his dog," the report says. The report didn't say whether Yates' pinning the raccoon is what eventually killed it. Yates told the Herald: "I wasn’t going to let it suffer. It was deceased, and I packaged it up and disposed of it appropriately."

The dog sustained cuts to the face and on the paw and was bitten multiple times, Yates told the Herald. According to the police report, Yates told the officer the dog sustained a few scratches but was OK.

The Englewood City Attorney's Office, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office and the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife “are all in agreement (and) no charges will be filed,” and the case is closed, the report says.

An Englewood code enforcement officer received a call back from the state Parks and Wildlife division, which informed the officer that a raccoon is considered “nuisance wildlife” and that if Yates did kill it to protect his property — his dog — there would be no criminal charges, the report says.

A Parks and Wildlife officer "also stated that if the citizen did injure the raccoon and followed it to put it out of its misery … (that) is no different than a hunter wounding a deer and following it to put it down,” the report says.

According to the DA's office, since Yates was not killing the raccoon maliciously or with criminal negligence and killed the raccoon in defense of his property, the DA's office would not file charges because no criminal violation occurred under Title 18 under Colorado state law, regarding cruelty to animals, the report says.

The 18th Judicial DA's Office jurisdiction includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. At least one citizen contacted Parks and Wildlife regarding the incident, according to the report.

Asked whether he felt the decision not to file charges amounted to special treatment of a former city councilmember, Yates said that's “absolutely not” the case.

“Especially when you take into consideration that it wasn't just our city involved. We're talking (about) other agencies where I haven't met anyone ... Our police department and our city attorneys, they don't care who it is. They treat everyone equally. And I would expect them to.”

Englewood City Attorney Tamara Niles could not immediately be reached for comment, including on whether the case could be prosecuted by another government body.

Yates, who has lived in Englewood for decades, is a former at-large city councilmember who was elected in 2013 and ran unsuccessfully for reelection in 2017.


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