Angie Harmon Opens Up About the 'Unfathomable' Pain of Losing Her Dog After He Was Shot by Instacart Driver (Exclusive)

Over a month ago, Angie Harmon heard a single gunshot from outside her home in Charlotte, NC, while feeding her two squirrels upstairs

Published Time: 15.05.2024 - 15:31:18 Modified Time: 15.05.2024 - 15:31:18

Over a month ago, Angie Harmon heard a single gunshot from outside her home in Charlotte, NC, while feeding her two squirrels upstairs.

She immediately opened the window to hear what the commotion was about. "Oh my God. Oh my God. Did you just shoot our dog!?" she heard her daughter Avery, 18, scream on the front lawn. 

When the Rizzoli & Isles alum, 51, glanced down from the second floor, she could see her German Shepherd and Beagle mix lying helpless on the front porch step. "He was just looking up at me," Harmon remembers, sharing her heartbreak exclusively with PEOPLE.

Oliver, whom Harmon and her daughters rescued from an SPCA shelter in Dallas, Texas, when he was four years old, had been their best friend and constant companion ever since. He gave them love, they kept him safe. But a day before Easter, on Saturday, March 30, everything changed.

Harmon ran out the front door barefoot, dressed in a nightgown and jeans, and remembers yelling, "What is going on?" 

A few feet away, Christopher Anthoney Reid, a grocery delivery service driver, stood silent after he allegedly shot their beloved canine. "We were running, screaming, crying. I remember thinking how weird — like, why isn't he helping? Why is he just watching us like entertainment?" says Harmon.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department learned in their investigation that after Reid delivered the food to Harmon's residence, he claimed "the dog attacked him and that he defended himself by firing a single gunshot, striking and mortally wounding the dog," per the police statement. Afterward, according to Harmon, the driver allegedly placed the gun in the front of his pants.

PEOPLE has reached out to Reid for comment.

"Yeah, I shot your dog. I shot him," Harmon claims Reid allegedly said to her at the time. She further claimed, "He just kept saying that over and over and over again. He wasn't agitated. He wasn't afraid. He wasn't mad. He wasn't sorry. He wasn't helping us. He wasn't anything. I was like, 'What are you talking about?'"

Moments later, she saw Oliver bleeding heavily on the concrete. He had been shot in his back right shoulder. According to Harmon, the impact broke all five of his ribs, and the bullet went through his lung, bounced off his stomach, and then exited under his left arm. But the dog was still alive.

When she quickly returned to the house to grab towels, her youngest daughter Emery, 15, was shaking and crying. "She was like, 'Mommy, no. Go take care of him. Help Oliver, help Oliver!'" Harmon recalls.

But as soon as Harmon tried to lift him, she says her legs gave out. "We pick Ollie up all the time, but I couldn't get him in the car," she admits.

While Avery called 911, Harmon says she and her daughter lifted the dog, but they were both traumatized by his physical appearance. Immediately, Harmon rushed Oliver to an emergency vet. While the doctors tried to revive him, she remained in shock on her hands and knees in the parking lot sobbing. 

"I just couldn't breathe. I couldn't get up, I couldn't do anything, and I couldn't help him as much as I kept trying, I kept failing," she says. "When I went in there, they were doing CPR on him, and they did that for 7 to 13 minutes. And then everything just got really still. There I was watching him covered in his blood."

In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Harmon is now suing Instacart and Reid, claiming she believed she was interacting with the delivery driver named "Merle," on the app, whose profile picture depicted an older woman, while answering questions about her order prior to the incident.

However, her attorney claims that Reid — whose father's name is Merle, per records viewed by PEOPLE — was the one who arrived at Harmon's property to deliver the groceries. The suit alleges, "Reid was impersonating Merle on the Instacart app," and consequently, Harmon had "no idea she had been communicating" with Reid, who is described in the documents as "a tall and intimidating younger man." 

The suit further alleges that Reid was "not injured" or "seriously threatened" by Harmon's dog and had "ample opportunity" to leave the property unharmed without shooting the dog. Harmon is suing for alleged trespassing, conversion, negligence, negligent supervision/hiring, invasion of privacy and negligent misrepresentation. She is seeking over $25,000 in damages, though the exact amount will be determined at trial.

In a statement about the incident to PEOPLE in April, Instacart noted that they had suspended the shopper from the platform and were working with local law enforcement on their investigation. On May 14, the company provided a further statement: “Our hearts continue to be with Ms. Harmon and her family following this disturbing incident," it read. "While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we have no tolerance for violence of any kind, and the shopper account has been perm -

anently deactivated from our platform.”

Per their user agreement, Instacart prohibits any violence or aggression on their platform, including carrying a weapon. They also prohibit fraud, including sharing account information and delegating shopping and delivering responsibilities to someone who does not have an active and valid shopper account. Only individuals who have a valid and active shopper account may shop on their platform and must be the ones who accept and deliver to customers. There are several security measures to prevent fraud and ensure that only active and properly background-checked shoppers have access to the platform and use it in the proper manner.

When Harmon returned home, the police questioned Reid for about 45 minutes, while she says they "talked to us for about 10 minutes, and then they let him go." She continues: "But he didn't have a mark on him. He didn't have a scratch; he didn't have torn jeans. He didn't have puncture marks. Most importantly, he didn't ask for help. He says he was attacked multiple times by Ollie and that he had to kick him off. But he didn't even ask for a Band-Aid or an ambulance."

Four hours later, Harmon claims Reid allegedly delivered food to one of her neighbors, even though she says Instacart suspended him.

"It's just so unnecessary. If this man was afraid of dogs, why is he a delivery person hiding under a false identity, carrying a gun?" Harmon questions. "If he's so scared of dogs, why wouldn't he have pepper spray, an air horn or a stick? There's no way that this man was in such bodily danger that he needed a gun to shoot our 43-pound dog."

When Harmon and her two daughters Avery and Emery visited Oliver at the vet later on, he was struggling to survive. "My girls repeated, 'I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry,' over and over again, and it was heartbreaking," Harmon says.

Shortly after, Oliver died. "Emory felt so guilty because the last thing he saw with her was running away from him instead of coming to help. I had the girls leave the room, then cried to him. I felt like I was going to throw up, and I did. We were silent on the way and the ride home. All of it was just so unnecessary," Harmon recalls.

On Mother's Day, May 12, Harmon's oldest daughter Finley, 20, returned from college to grieve with the family. "We're all in therapy for PTSD. There is no reason for anybody to go through this, none," says Harmon, noting that her daughters couldn't get out of bed for a week afterward.

Her other rescued animals (two dogs, Daisy and Benny; two cats, Hazel and Moose; and three squirrels, Oscar and Emmy. Thomas — a girl — who is now living out in the wild) have also suffered from the loss. Harmon says that Benny, her 8-year-old Great Dane, Mastiff, and Catahoula mix, now sleeps at the foot of the bed where his best friend used to rest.

"They all miss our goofy Ollie, who wasn't aggressive at all," Harmon adds.

"Everything just stopped. It's like even your brain stops," she continues. "And I've just done a crazy cleaning of my entire home, scrubbing the floors. I installed a new alarm system. My therapist said, 'When you go through trauma at your home, you get rid of all the things that are unnecessary,' and that's exactly what I've been doing because I'm trying to make my home feel safe again because it doesn't right now."

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Although it's difficult for Harmon to process the grief, she says she and her girls don't want anyone else to go through something like this. "This is horribly wrong. I feel neglected, unsafe and feel like people and their pets don't mean anything. It's how we all feel. The fact that Reid just got away with it and that Instacart is like, 'Oh, well, we'll shut his account down.' It's not enough," she says.

"I'm still bawling and crying. I can feel myself shaking. It's difficult — unfathomable — but we can't just sit back and do nothing. We can't just sit by and take our rebate from Instacart and say, 'Okay, thank you.' This is like a public service announcement," she says. "I mean, people need to know that this is what could happen."

Although the family isn't ready for a funeral for Oliver yet, they do have his ashes preserved in an urn and an imprint of his paw that is framed in their rooms to remember him.

"I miss him being here," Harmon says, heartbroken. "I miss him barking. He was so talkative. We would all crack up. He would sit there and bark, and we'd be like, 'What? You're hungry again?' and that's what I miss most about him."

With tears in her eyes, she adds, "The thing that we all found the most annoying is now what I can't live without."

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