Family releases statement on behalf of woman charged in dog-swinging incident
Warning: the video of this incident is disturbing and language in this story may be offensive to some viewers.
HALIFAX -- The family of a woman facing criminal charges after a video posted online showed a dog being swung by its leash in an apparent altercation, has released a statement on her behalf.
Police say it started after women in one vehicle confronted women in another vehicle about being cut-off near a drive-through cold beer store in Dartmouth.
Twenty-seven year old Clarissa Crawley is charged with assault with a weapon and willfully causing unnecessary suffering to an animal in the incident, which happened on Canada Day.
Crawley was arrested by Halifax Regional Police on Wednesday and has been released on conditions to appear in court in August.
The Crawley family has provided a statement to CTV News, saying it "is in response to the flurry of wrong information to the public, and damaging racially charged hate circulating on social media and elsewhere."
The statement goes on to say "the owner of the dog was driving in the other lane in an attempt to cut in front of Clarissa … the person recording (the video) did not catch the beginning nor the end of the incident, which would have captured racial slurs, including the n-word, being hurled at Clarissa."
"The use of the n-word, especially in these racially charged times, is categorically and unmistakably meant to incite a negative or violent reaction. As the argument ensued, one of the women ripped Clarissa’s necklace from her neck and the other woman put it in her purse. The women continued with the verbal assaults, a physical altercation, and still a refusal to return the necklace."
According to the statement, Crawley retrieved the puppy in an attempt to get the women to return her property.
"The situation escalated quickly as the woman threatened Clarissa and ran toward her. She was unsure at that point if the woman had taken anything from her car as a weapon, and without thinking, used the dog as a shield in the heat of the moment. It does not make the action acceptable, and Clarissa has continually expressed deep remorse over the dog’s safety, and never intended any harm to come to the dog. She also expressed immediate remorse for how the situation between them had escalated so quickly."
For her part, Brittany McGuire, the owner of the dog, says she was in the line of cars for over an hour and a half and that Crawley cut her off.
She also says she never used the n-word or any racial slur. She says she has black family members, including a black father-in-law.
"Race has nothing to do with this and it’s a shame that’s what they’re trying to turn this into," McGuire said.
When asked about the alleged physical altercation – including having the necklace ripped off the other woman, McGuire said "when (Crawley) reached into my passenger side window and assaulted my passenger, during that altercation her necklace was ripped off. I was trying to look for it to throw it out the window so we could leave the scene. In fact, I gave her full access to my car to look for her necklace … and she found it, wrapped around (the base of) the steering wheel."
As the incident escalated, McGuire says "of course when somebody takes your animal out of the car you’re going to go after them and at that point all I was screaming was 'give me back my dog, don’t take my dog,' and I was screaming for people to help me. Her life was not being threatened and the only life that was being threatened at that time was my dog's."
McGuire says she did call Crawley a "psycho bitch" after her dog was allegedly taken. She repeatedly denies using any racial slurs.
McGuire also says that she believes the threats and racism Crawley and her family have received on social media is "absolutely unacceptable."
She says she just wants justice. She also says her dog will be taking puppy classes to help with the trauma of this incident.
Halifax police say they are investigating this incident in its totality. They continue to ask anyone who saw what happened to come forward with any information they can provide.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Allan April and Dan Appleby.