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SLC Police Chief addresses dog shooting incident


SALT LAKE CITY - Hundreds of people are expected to rally outside the Salt Lake City Police Department, angry that an officer shot and killed a neighbor's dog.

Nine days after the incident, police chief Chris Burbank addressed the community for the first time.

Burbank identified the officer during a press conference Friday. He expressed remorse for the incident but also said he's disappointed by the public response which has included hate mail and even death threats towards officers. Some felt Burbank's press conference hurt the situation more than it helped.

Brett Olsen is the officer who's under investigation.

"This is a seasoned officer with tremendous experience," Burbank said

The chief added that Olsen was one of the heroes who took down suspect Sulejman Talovic in the Trolley Square mall shooting in February 2007.

But now, Olsen is under scrutiny for shooting and killing "Geist" the dog June 18th while Olsen was searching a Sugarhouse backyard for a missing toddler.

"This is an unfortunate circumstance," Burbank said, saying the shooting wasn't intentional.

Officer Olsen, who wasn't wearing a body camera, told investigators he had no choice. He claims Geist attacked him.

"Evidence shows the dog was extremely close, in fact within feet of the officer," Burbank said

The chief says Salt Lake cops are being verbally abused on the street over the incident, plus death threats and on Friday the chief appeared downright angry
by the public's response.

"After 23 years in law enforcement I haven't seen this type of public outcry when certain human beings have lost their lives," Burbank said.

"It makes them seem very detached and non-sympathetic to people who are deeply moved by this situation," said Sean Kendall, the dog's owner

The group "Justice for Geist," who considers pets like family, prepared Friday for a rally Saturday morning. They believe the officer could have used non-lethal force and shouldn't have been in Kendall's backyard in the first place.
The group also feels Friday's press conference added gasoline to the fire.

"He waited that long to make a statement and then he came out and acted like it was a waste of his time," said Wendy Park

"This happened to Sean's dog Geist but it could've happened to anybody's dog and I think that's the ground moment that's woken up here," said Ryan Peltekian

The Justice for Geist group doesn't believe Saturday's rally will turn violent and police agree, confident that cooler heads will prevail.

Officer Olsen remains on duty as two investigations are underway.

Both internal affairs and an independent civilian review board are looking into the case and expect to wrap up the investigation in a month, which Chief Burbank says is typical to give the officer due process.

Video: SLCPD news conference regarding dog shooting:

Related stories:

GRAPHIC: Dog owner posts video of talk with officers after dog killed

Dog owner wants officer fired after his dog was shot, killed

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

SLC police reviewing training for animal encounters, rally planned in support of dog shot by cop

173 comments

  • David Swenk

    Police across this country are violating rights, where was this officer’s warrant to be on the man’s property? We fought a revolution for this kinds of behavior, the Constitution required due process for any search and seizure because of the British violation of a person’s home . With the current Department of Justice as their example of lawless behavior, government and their police feel they are above the law. This Police Chief shows the arrogance, guess he feels like he can do anything he wants wearing that badge. The officer in question should be fired for gross neglect of duty and I hope the citizen enjoys a nice hefty sum from his lawsuit for violation of his civil rights.

    • Morgan

      I must agree with you David! How convenient that he wasn’t wearing his camera? There should be harsh punishment in place for Officers not wearing them!

    • Danny

      There are exceptions to the warrant requirements in the 4th Amendment.

      EXCEPTIONS TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT

      Exceptions to the warrant requirement exist, however. The plain view doctrine is one exception. Pursuant to the plain view doctrine, if a government agent takes possession of property not included within the warrant but that was in the plain view of the government agent, then the property may be taken. A seizure of evidence in plain view does not compromise any further expectation of privacy than that already compromised by the warrant and thus serves as the rationale behind the plain view doctrine.

      Officers can also search and seize objects on a person if the officer has placed the person under arrest. This exception extends to situations in which the police in good-faith mistakenly arrest the wrong suspect and seize contraband during the search. If a suspect, either during a traffic stop or otherwise, makes a furtive gesture, the gesture justifies a limited warrantless police intrusion.

      At times exigent circumstances will make obtaining a warrant impractical. The law permits officers to make warrantless searches and seizures if they find that exigent circumstances exist and that they have probable cause. An exigent circumstance exists when an officer has a compelling need to take official action but lacks the time needed to acquire a warrant. Determining probable cause in this context requires a consideration of the totality of the circumstances to determine whether an officer acted in accord with a high probability that the search would turn up contraband or evidence. The decision maker must examine the facts making up the totality of the circumstances from the viewpoint of an objectively reasonable officer prior to making the arrest.

      If officers enter a residence or building without a warrant to assist in an emergency, the entry does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

      If the offer receives consent to make a search without a warrant, the search does not violate the Fourth Amendment. The consent must be given voluntarily, which means the giver must give it unequivocally, specifically, and intelligently. Consent must not have resulted from coercion or duress. Similarly, a third-person may give consent for law enforcement to search a house or premises if the third-person lawfully owns or occupies the premises. However, if two residents are present and one consents but the other objects, the rights of the objecting party override the other party’s consent. See Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006). Police can then use any evidence or contraband obtained against another person who resides in the residence or on the premises but did not give consent. Employers can consent to a police search of areas within its building, excluding areas specifically assigned to an employee at a place of business. Landlords cannot permit the search of a leased premises.

      The law treats staff and faculty members of public educational insitutions as agents of the government. Therefore, the Fourth Amendment applies to public school employees, but a less stringent standard prevails. In the context of public school searches, employees may perform a search on the condition that they have reasonable suspicion. Reasonable suspicion requires a rationale basis upon which to believe that a student possesses contraband or has committed a crime. Hunches, rumors, or guesses do not constitute reasonable suspicion.

      Searches made at or near the border are also exempt from warrant requirements.

  • Camille Sylvester

    Anyone comes on my property and hurts my dogs or cats or kids I will use extreme force he had no right to go on that property he had no right to kill that dog that officer is lucky that owner didn’t kill him I’m surprised at how the owner kept himself calm I couldn’t have

  • Jenny

    Olsen should be off the duty until investigation is completed or he kills somebody else(maybe a human next time).We really do not need another dead body.Law enforcement is financed with our tax money.Olsen is not thinking clearly – how the hell can 3 year old get over high fence and end up with an “AGGRESSIVE” dog as he claimed.

  • J. Lavalliere

    The cop should have used common sense. It’s not likely a three year old is going to be able to unlatch a six foot privacy fence. In many jurisdictions killing a police dog will get you serious jail time. And yet, they are treating this incident so nonchalant.

    • Danny

      As an LEO was involved in a case where there was a missing little girl. She was found in a backyard with a 6ft cinder block wall around it. She had been raped, choked to the point she passed out then dumped over the wall when the assailant thought she was dead. So no, a child can’t reach latches like that but when a child is missing you do everything you can to find them because you don’t know always know the circumstances of why they went missing.

  • PEDRO

    In my opinion this was an arrogant officer. He was not willing to accept the consequences of unlawfully entering someone’s property which would have been a dog bite. He should have kicked the dog away and moved towards the gate to exit. He may have experienced a couple painful bites, but nothing life threatening. What a coward.

  • Jimmy short

    Thought it was just a case of one poorly trained bad attitude badge carrier but guess what,we have another one running the department.i happen to be in the fire department for 48 years.I never thought about a bite when taking dogs, and animals in general out of bad situations.Guess I have been real stupid all this time as a matter of fact I guess my whole department has been real stupid.God I’m proud of all my boys in the dept.Wonder how they really feel about there department.

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