MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida man called 911 to report a neighborhood burglary — but it was his dog that ended up tased, shot and killed. Investigators have released records and video from the deadly encounter. A warning: Some may find parts of this special report disturbing. Here’s the Nightteam’s Karen Hensel.

It was the evening of Oct. 5, 2020 when two Miami-Dade police officers approached a home, guns drawn.

Their body cameras rolled.

Officer: “Show me your hands. Show me your hands!”

Police are speaking to Sylvan Plowright, the homeowner.

He had just called 911, about two people trying to break into a house behind his property.

911 call, dispatcher: “And it’s behind your address?”

Plowright: “Yes.”

Sylvan did not know the exact address, so he gave his location, plus details about the neighbor’s house.

911 call: “It’s a corner lot. It’s a white car parked in front of the place, a white SUV.”

But this is what happened when the officers responded to his house. 

Sylvan and his dog Niles appear from the backyard.

Officer: “Show me your hands. Show me your hands!”

Sylvan: “Hey, hey, come here, Niles. Hey, I seen…”

Officer: “Show me your hands! Get the dog. I’m gonna shoot it.”

Other officer: “Get the dog.”

Sylvan: “Niles, Niles, Niles, Niles, Niles, Niles. Don’t shoot my…”

Officer: “Get the dog!”

Sylvan: “Niles, Niles, Niles, Niles.”

Officer: “Get the dog!”

Sylvan: “I don’t know how, what you want me to do.”

Officer: “Get the dog!”

Sylvan: “Do you want me to walk towards you?

Officer: “Go, go over there, go!”

Sylvan: “Don’t tase my dog.”

Officer: “Get the dog!”

The red dots from the taser are aimed at Niles.

Sylvan: “He’s a good dog. Don’t, don’t…” 

Officer: “Get the dog!”

Sylvan: “Niles, Niles, Niles, Niles.”

Officer: “Get the dog!”

Officer: “Don’t risk it, don’t risk it, don’t risk it, don’t risk it.”

Sylvan: “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t.”

Taser officer: “Can you pick him up before I tase him?”

Sylvan: “I called you.”

Officer: “Pick up your f****** dog! Pick up the dog!”

Sylvan: “Hey! Hey, I called.”

Officer: “Get on the ground, get on the ground!”

Sylvan: “I called the police. I called the police.”

Watch again.

The first officer tases Niles. As the dog scrambles away, the second officer fires his gun three times, hitting the dog.

Niles died in the driveway.

Sylvan Plowright (Nov. 2020): “There’s still his blood right there. I saw the dog’s last breath. That’s when my girlfriend came out.”

It was last November when we first shared Sylvan Plowright’s story. He says Niles was killed for barking.

For a year, police could not release much information because there was an open internal affairs investigation.

Now, the case is closed, and the officer who fired the fatal shots has been cleared.

We showed the video to Sylvan for the first time.

Sylvan Plowright: “It wasn’t a minute that I did not want to grab the dog, but with the different officers there, it was a scary situation.”

Investigators said Officer Sergio Cordova “discharged his firearm to protect himself from serious physical injury. As the dog charged at him there would have been no other reasonable means to eliminate the threat.”

They concluded his “actions were justified, lawful, and proper.”

Niles is described as a “vicious dog.”

Sylvan Plowright: “The dog is not a violent dog. He barks violently, but he does not charge. I mean, that’s what dogs are supposed to do.”

Karen Hensel: “Protect the property.”

Sylvan Plowright: “Bark.”

Sylvan Plowright: “I had this damn dog. I didn’t have no kids. This is my family.”

Even with the police case closed, Sylvan, a former professional boxer, is punching back, suing the county.

Officer: “He gave his own description. The call taker misunderstood him. He said back there.”

He says he was told this by a police supervisor:

Sylvan Plowright: “They told me that this happening would serve them to teach officers how not to respond.”

We asked Miami-Dade Police to confirm, but they declined, citing the pending lawsuit.

Sylvan Plowright: “For a whole year I’m still looking at an empty space, a hole, a hole in my heart.”

And for a whole year, Sylvan has been waiting to get the body of his American bulldog returned.

But 7News has just learned that’s not going to happen.

Miami-Dade Animal Services disposed of Niles in a landfill, even after Sylvan says he was assured he would get Niles back after the investigation. 

And even after we alerted Miami-Dade Animal Services of his request last year, the agency now says they had no record the owner wanted him back. 

Today, animal services offered to assist Sylvan in adopting a dog from the shelter.

Sylvan has told us he’s not emotionally ready for a new dog.


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