Salt Lake Police facing questions after officer enters man’s yard, shoots and kills dog

SALT LAKE CITY — The backyard of 2465 South 1500 East in Salt Lake City was quieter than usual on Thursday, with its most popular resident noticeably absent.

“He was kind of all I had,” Sean Kendall said.

When Kendall returned home from work on Wednesday, he found his 2-year-old Weimaraner, Geist, dead in the yard with a bullet in his head.

“To me, he wasn’t just some animal,” Kendall said. “He was my best friend. He was kind of like a child. I went through raising him, training him.”

Kendall and his roommate are still waiting for an explanation from the person who killed the dog, a Salt Lake City Police Officer.

“I can understand in an emergency situation, entering, but wouldn’t you enter with some caution? And shouldn’t shooting be a last resort?” said Haley Bowen, who owns the property.

According to police, the officers were in the area going door-to-door while searching for a missing 3-year-old boy. Because the child had difficulty communicating, authorities were concerned he would not respond if they called out to him.

When no one answered the door at Kendall’s home, the officer felt he should still check the yard, which is where he ran into the dog. In the brief encounter, the officer reported he felt threatened by the animal, so he shot him.

“Something like this is hard for everyone involved. One minute you’re out looking for a 3 year old, and the next minute you find yourself in this situation where you’ve shot somebody’s dog. And now we need to investigate that and make sure everything was done right,” said Sgt. Robin Heiden of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Internal Affairs is investigating the incident, but local attorney Robert Sykes believes it’s obvious the officer was out of line.

“Going into the backyard, a fenced backyard, it’s like walking in someone’s home without a warrant: It’s illegal, it’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights,” he said.

In his view, the officer should be charged with trespassing, as there was no reason to believe the missing child was in the home.

“If they saw the kid go in, yeah,” Sykes said. “But you see, if that were OK, that there’s a kid’s missing, why couldn’t they go in everybody’s home on the block? Why couldn’t they actually open the door and go in? I think very few people would say that’s OK.”

Kendall has the same questions.

“My dog has never lunged or attacked anybody,” Kendall said. “And besides the fact of what my dog did or did not do, why was the officer in my backyard? Why didn’t he identify himself, announce his presence? Why didn’t he knock on the gate?”

The missing 3 year old was later found inside his own home, hiding.

Salt Lake City Police have been in contact with the Humane Society to discuss the best ways to approach animals on the job, and they’re also considering providing special training in the future.

Kendall said a member of the community approached him about creating a Facebook page called “Justice for Geist” to advocate for changes to the way police are trained to deal with animals and to offer support. Kendall consented, click here to visit the page.

26 comments

  • Mike

    Recommended for your viewing, “Officer Hassani Get Out Of Filer Idaho” Facebook page. The community needs to get involved on a large scale. Rally and protest. Let the nation know. The city needs to fire this officer before his kills someone by mistake.

  • aj

    Please take action and let this be the last of law enforcement officers killing our dogs.This officer was trying to be a hero and find this child without following the rules in the book and breaking laws that he is suppost to enforce. I know police have the local animal control officers numbers on hand if there dispatch does , and they should of contacted them if the officer saw a dog back there. If the officer didnt see a dog then he didnt knock on the gate or anounce himself being there, if he did then the dog would started barking and came out of kennal scaring off the officer.(my point is that he was creeping around silenty not anouncing he was about to enter or he knew the dog was there and entered at his own risk which is both wrong and him fault.) On the news i been seeing a lot of law enforcements abuse there power and i believe this is one of them, they think they could get away with things and they will keep thinking that way until We The People Put A Stop to that. This could of been prevented.LAW ENFORCEMENT USE YOUR HEAD NOT YOUR GUNS

    • Debbie Hendrickson

      My dogs are locked up when we are not home. Our Siberian does not bark. The Red Healer does if someone gets to close to the yard or comes in it. That is what I expect them to do. I can tell if someone is in my yard during the night or day. They are also our friends we have had them for 9 and 11 years. We have taken care of them, taken them to vets, taken them to be groomed, taken them for rides, walks, played with them, loved and fed them etc. You just don’t expect some arrogant, gun ho, fame seeking officer would just go on the property without any regard for the law. He should have called the owner to have him come home and assist with the dog. The next step would have been animal control if the owner was not available. If they couldn’t have caught the dog they could have tranquillized it. Over the last several years I have seen far to many of these kinds of arrogant of cops. I don’t know if its the way they are training them or if its the kind of people they are attracting to the field! Be careful out there, don’t given any excuse to bring the water cannons, rubber bullets, etc.

  • beck

    First and for most, if the animal companion was secured properly. There is NO WAY A 3 YR OLD WOULD HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET INTO THE BACK YARD! An that breed of dog is not a vicious at taking breed. Mine never was unless you had a pillow in hand. But if you felt threatened STAY THE F@#CM OUT THE YARD! Could hav called animal control an came back to that yard once non lethal means get there. But to leave the dog there dead in the yard once the “COWARD” murdered the animal companion. Is immoral and wrong. Animal control should hav been called to remove the animal and then a notice left fir the hone owner to contact someone in the matter of animal is now gone… PLAIN AND MORTALLY CORRECT…

  • Swandawg

    That cop is a huge pu$$y…The Weimaraner was an all purpose family dog, capable of guarding the home, hunting with the family, and of course, being loving and loyal towards children.

  • Carol Delaney

    The act of police shooting dogs for no reason is very, very common; not just in Utah, but all across the country. Seach “Police shoot dogs,” and you will be shocked. Cops killing dogs when GOING TO THE WRONG ADRESS happens often enough to be appalling—it’s not in the hundreds, BUT THE THOUSANDS!. It’s something that must be stopped. All experts on human behavior, including psychologists, know that psycopaths always begin their behavior by abusing animals such as dogs, before they move on to humans. This particular act of killing a pet dog must be investigated—such acts by police or sheriffs MUST be stopped!

  • ratbastardshanahandjob

    Every 98 minutes a LEO shoots-kills a family pet. Inside edition just did a story called “puppycide” about dogs being murdered. There is also a “puppycide” movie in the works……Ever notice you Never hear a story of a Fireman killing a family pet??? They rush in and save any size dog. And with fire and everything going on around them you know the animal is scared to death. But unlike Cowardly Thug Cops who first thought is shoot to kill. The Fireman’s first instant is save in spite of maby getting bit…..

  • Dave

    The cop’s name needs to be made public so that the public can refuse him and request another officer. He is clearly a public menace, an unstable psychopathy.

    • aj

      Fox 13 you guys say you are the best, so its going to be on you to provide us with this officers name and put him on the spot light maybe even do a story or investigate for the public

  • Gary Yates

    How is it that dog catchers (animal control officers if you prefer) have been catching dogs for many decades, without shooting them? Are they braver and more competent than scared, trigger-happy, retarded, psychopathic thugs who wear police badges?

  • FOX DICK

    You are a police officer. If you can’t handle a dog, how are you going to handle a kid riding his skateboard on the sidewalk? Or a person jaywalking? Or a person riding a bike without a helmet? Or a speeder? Or a mentally handicapped person? Or a person who doesn’t speak English? He is not fit for uniform. He should be charged with trespassing and damage to property.

  • Theodore Bratro Jr.

    The idiot cop couldn’t figure out the 3 year old couldn’t reach the door latch? Then I guess he thinks the kid is in the dog house, and wets his pants when Geist comes out. I have been attacked by a pack of large dogs, while I was on a public sidewalk. It is no fun, but I survived with a few puncture wounds. One dog wasn’t that much of a threat to an armed man. Why do we never hear a cop actually got bitten. Because they are pusssys, I guess.

  • justin

    Any other person would have been cited for trespassing. Not many of us know the whole story, but if these cops are just walking into random backyards, uninvited, yeah, these situations are going to happen. Humans and animals are territorial by nature. The owner of this dog has every right to pursue justice, and this cop needs to be disciplined and punished for ruining this innocent owners, and dogs life.

  • Travis

    If by chance this happened to any of you and you were home. You heard your dog barking so you went out to the backyard. All of a sudden you see someone in your yard pulling their gun and shoot. Would you draw your concealed weapon and return fire?

  • Tim Stout

    If I were on the jury I think 5 million for punitive damages would be about right. A fearless cop in a bullet proof vest with a can of mace that would detour a bear. Weimaraners are loving dogs. Rest in peace Geist. Stupid coward cop!

  • Dog Lover

    I guess these cops have never heard of PEPPER SPAY?????? This cop entered a back yard without permission, without a warrant and then KILLED this man’s pet dog by shooting it not once but TWICE. This cop needs to be fired and charged with animal cruelty. He needs to ahve to PAY for the dog he shot.

  • Albert

    I asked the law enforcement (LE) community about this issue and this are the results:
    First of all LE community did not like this article whatsoever! They found even the article offensive type of news article!
    Some of them called it bias! and blames the media for it!!! So they did not want to blame the LE no matter what!!!
    When I responded to some LEs answers very logical and with respect, they did delete the whole questions and answers from the website with LE community members!!! Also I was attacked by the LE community over this!!!
    In general the LE community’s answer is that they do not want to carry extra objects with them like tranquilizers. Also carrying tranquilizers instead of carrying deadly force (handguns) may will put themselves in danger as maybe while they are using tranquilizers, a bad guy may start shooting at them and because they have only few seconds to respond, it may cause them deadly harm!
    Here are some of the answers to my question from mostly LE’s:
    My question was:
    Do you think it is a good idea that officers carry tranquilizers when they enter properties without warrant in case of emergencies when there is a dog at yard or at home?
    Do think if officers in this case carry tranquilizers, it will stop incidents like the following recent incident:
    http://fox13now.com/2014/06/19/salt-lake-police-facing-questions-after-officer-enters-mans-yard-fatally-shoots-dog/

    and the answers from mostly LEs:
    ———
    Speaking as an officer……..I have enough stuff to carry on a duty belt as it is……..pistol, spare mags, cuffs, radio, taser, etc. I’m not sure there is enough space left on the Sam Browne belt to carry a tranquilizer. It is unfortunate that a dog gets shot/killed, but sometimes it is simply unavoidable, I think that there is no officers that relish the thought that they might have to shoot an animal, but like I said, sometimes it is simply unavoidable,
    ———-
    Good to hear it from someone with experience. I live near where this happened and the news has been all over this story. After this came out, I told my wife that cops have enough on their belt and expecting them to switch between lethal and non lethal means in every situation is going to get a cop killed. Another option is going to make sure that the confusion will be even more dangerous.
    ———-
    First, an officer already have a lot of gear as it is and it’s not fun doing a foot pursuit. Second, the patrol car is already packed with other stuff for traffic/highway emergencies. Third, the tranquilizer have to be secure and locked up just like you see at the pharmacy.
    ———-
    It’s unfortunate that an animal was killed. He was looking for a kid and there is an ongoing investigation. The people that want his badge and even those making death threats against this cop and others as well, need to let the facts come out. No one was there, but the cop and the dog snd hopefully, only the truth will come out.
    ———-
    Unless there are circumstances that demand engaging an animal, 1st responders, i.e… EMT’s, Fire, Police, usually opt to call Animal Control to clear the problem. They have the training, equipment, & means of transport to deal with most anything, and get the best possible end result.
    ———-
    That’s an unfortunate situation but as others have stated LEO’s have enough on their belt already.
    ———-
    Its up to local laws and the lawyers
    ———-
    Not. LEO’s have enough equipment to haul around on them as it is. We can’t expect them to adorn a complete set of body armor to make themselves bullet proof or bite proof from dogs or any other animals they come across.
    ———-
    Wasn’t there and won’t second guess but I have had my own problems that way
    ———-
    I think LEO are already carrying a lot of equipment. Even if they could find room it would give them yet another piece of equipment to grab in the heat of the moment.
    ———-
    I am not in law enfocement and I don’t envy anyone being put in those life or death or bit by a dog situations
    ———-
    I say no
    ———-
    No comment other than listen to the LEO’s.
    ———-
    I completely agree with the everyone, they hit the nail on the head. Keep in mind I am a huge dog lover but unfortunately sometimes we have to shoot a dog. There is already just too much for us too carry, and if we are entering a house our weapons are drawn, we don’t have time to transition to tranqualizer to shoot a dog, then much less try to transition back to our weapon in case the bad guy is there. It sounds good in theory but is just not even close to practical. I in bad situation I have less than a second to decide to shoot or not shoot if I want myself and fellow LEOs to go home. Bottom line if we are entering a house we are looking for a bad guy and he has done something to bring us there, if in the couse of that event we have to shoot a dog then that is on the bad guy. He created the event we are only responding to it. To enter with a tranqualizer drawn and my weapon on my hip or slung is just asking to get shot.

    Now with that said on the bright side many times once we throw the flashbang even the most vicious dogs run and hide and we do always try to have K9 units on the perimeter to secure dogs if possible. Many times even if we don’t bang a location the dogs will run and hide.
    ———-
    i feel it is demanding to much of LEO
    ———-
    I think that’s a lot to ask given what officers already have to train with and carry around with them. I’m not a LEO, but I work with them regularly and I can’t see many of them going for it.
    ———-
    To effectively apply a tranquilizer utilizes a secondary weapons system for delivery. With the gear they are already tasked with carrying, it is asking a lot to add a third weapon to the mix.
    ———-

    Here were some of the answers from mostly LE community!

    • Albert

      Here is another answer that I received:
      Tranquilizers take time to kick in. Also, the dose given is based off of the weight of the animal. It would be next to impossible to utilize them in the short time they’re needed. So in this case I feel they would be of no use.

    • Tim Stout

      These cops are clueless or they are just trying to make excuses through the use of rationalization’s. You don’t need a tranquilizer gun to calm down a hostile dog, just ask the postal and delivery people. If talking and backing away doesn’t work than mace will defiantly do it. I’m so tired of ignorant people.

  • Cartman

    In case she doesn’t, I will: Who authorized that pig to destroy someone’s property? The dog was properly contained. The pig trespassed without a warrant and opened fire.

    Didn’t it occur to Doughnut Muncher that if the dog is THAT scary the child wouldn’t be in there?

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