SLC cop cleared in shooting of Geist the dog

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A pair of investigations have cleared a Salt Lake City police officer who shot and killed a dog while searching for a missing child.

An internal affairs investigation and a probe by Salt Lake City's Civilian Review Board found Officer Brett Olsen did not violate policy when he shot Geist in the backyard of Sean Kendall's home.

"This was an unfortunate circumstance in which an officer was doing exactly what we in the public require of them, and an animal who was doing what instinct believes appropriate," Burbank said at a Friday morning news conference. "We are, as the police department, very sorry for the circumstance."

Kendall blasted the findings.

"It is with great disappointment the Salt Lake City Police Department has chosen to tow the thin blue line instead of uphold their oath to the sovereign country and state they are employed by," Kendall told reporters outside his home Friday afternoon.

Read the letter from the SLCPD to Kendall here:

 

Kendall's 2-year-old Weimeraner "Geist" was killed on June 18 as Olsen searched the neighborhood for a missing toddler. He entered Kendall's backyard, and police said he shot Geist because the dog charged him and the officer felt threatened.

The Civilian Review Board, which is independent from the SLC PD, also ruled the shooting justified.

Read the findings from the CRB here:

 

Kendall told FOX 13 he did not believe the CRB was truly independent.

"When police investigate themselves, typically they find themselves not guilty," he said.

Burbank said the officer was justified.

"Imagine the outcry if that child was in that yard injured, abducted... and we did nothing?" he said.

Read the dispatch log for the missing child report here:

 

Burbank said there is a legal standard that allows for officers to enter into yards unannounced. He also said Officer Olsen had "seconds" to react. The reports stated there was 3 feet between a charging Geist and Olsen, who used deadly force.

The Civilian Review Board report found that Olsen did not have training on how to deal with attacking animals, unlike other officers. Burbank committed that the SLC PD would provide more training for officers going forward.

Burbank called for a lessening of the "rhetoric" from people outraged over the dog's shooting, noting that some people have made death threats against Olsen and other SLC PD officers.

"All I ask is for a civil dialogue," he said.

Read the dispatch log for the shooting of Geist here:

 

Burbank said the SLC PD offered to compensate Kendall for the death of Geist and pay for burial costs immediately after the shooting, but it was rejected.

The chief insisted the police department was approached by Kendall about a settlement. At the news conference, Burbank refused to talk specifics about the negotiations but said Kendall never sought policy changes within the department, only money.

After going back-and-forth on Facebook, Kendall announced earlier this week that he had rejected the settlement. On Friday, he told reporters he was consulting with a lawyer and considering a lawsuit against the SLC PD.

The shooting has triggered outrage from animal rights activists and others, who believed that the officer should never have entered Kendall's backyard. Several protests have been staged over the shooting of Geist.

Read a statement from the Humane Society of Utah here:

Humane Society of Utah statement

 

109 comments

  • LJ

    ‘Burbank called for a lessening of the “rhetoric” from people outraged over the dog’s shooting, noting that some people have made death threats against Olsen and other SLC PD officers. “All I ask is for a civil dialogue,” he said.’

    Ha! All civility went out the window when an officer violated a citizen’s property rights, then murdered a family pet. Only a coward would shoot a “menacing” dog. Most persons would simply remove themselves from the situation without escalating the menacing behavior.

    Additionally, only a fool would accept $10,000 as a settlement. Other cases across the country have awarded much more to the injured party. Law enforcement officers, their departments, and the civil entity they work for need to be hit in their pocketbooks until they change their policy on how to handle aggressive pets.

  • Sheryl

    I have looked at this from every angle I can think of, and it was not justified. Doesn’t an officer maybe check the backyard first for signs of a dog. I would if I was entering an unknown yard. 110 pound dog? Would he be afraid of a 110 pound woman or child? Anyone have the answer to this question: How many police officers have been seriously injured or died due to a dog attack in the past year, two years, three years?

  • devon heatherly

    Dear police officers, you should all be ashamed. You think its necessary to kill dogs and most of them let the dogs suffer to death after a non kill shot(to preserve the scene).when really you should get that animal help like you would a human… And i find it sad that the postmen around the u.s. all carry pepper spray not guns.. See how far that’s gotten them?

  • Sharon C.

    What the cops conveniently overlooked was that the TODDLER could NOT have opened the gate to the yard by himself, so for officer to even go back there to look for the child was, to say the least, inadvisable. It is also a fact that he did so without permission and was, in fact, trespassing regardless of police assertions that they have the right to enter private property at will: they don’t have the right to enter a fenced back yard without telling the homeowner they’re doing so in most states and localities. I would think that conservative SLC would certainly be among those.

    Also, the child was found one half hour after he was reported missing sleeping in his basement: his parents or caregiver didn’t even do a proper search of the home before they hit the panic button. ‘Why is this being conveniently ignored by the cops? The search was unnecessary to begin with.

    And yes, when the cops investigate themselves, they ALWAYS find themselves blameless even when there are videos and many witnesses to the contrary. .

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  • Diana Branson

    Disgusting some of the comments here justifying this killing. There is no justifying it. Stand up for your rights to your home and property, children and animals to be safe. This IS happening all over the nation. AND look up the statistics on police deaths, how many have been killed by a dog? ZERO, NONE. Officers like this one, and the others only want to shoot and kill something, so they go after the next best thing that hurts us the most, our pets.

    • A Citizen for Justice Without Corruption

      Civil law is becoming more corrupt by the day and it’s only going to get worse. It’s now time to start defending yourself against the police.. If not you yourself my soon become dead meat.
      LEARN,PRACTICE and DEPLOY the arts of self defense because I guarantee you will need it Anytime in the very near future…….

  • Haydee

    The findings are absurd and I do hope the owner sues and starts a petition to fire the officer. To enter private property and shoot a dog for doing what dogs do and, and for the findings to determine that the shooting was justified, is absolute insanity.

  • Joe

    I can’t understand the inability of people to feel and show empathy for others. Some people say, it’s just a dog, get over it. Some people say that dumb/evil cop..

    Kid reported missing. Cop has been involved in a missing child case where the kid, Destiny Norton, was found to have been abducted and murdered. Elizabeth Smart was held captive right near her own neighborhood while she was raped on a daily basis, for months. The kid wasn’t able to open a fence on his own? That’s not even a reasonable point since a missing child could easily be an abducted child. Feel bad for the dog owner but maybe feel bad for a cop who likely feels terrible about the pain he caused someone else. Do you know the cop? Do you know how he feels about it? Just because he was found innocent of wrong doing doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel bad for it. Get over it and move on.

    • A Citizen for Justice Without Corruption

      Sorry Joe, but I feel it REALLY hard to believe to see the these SLCPD cops are “so well trained” to perform their daily jobs as “professionals” any more because of the fact that you can now turn on the news on any given day and theirs been another deadly SLCPD cop murder. This is COMPLETELY unacceptable and these rookie cops are absolutely NOT doing their job to protect and serve. The running MO of these people pretty well seems to be that when they respond to any given situation that department protocol has been to shoot first and ask questions later. Now you have the quagmire of the police investigating the police over the blatant murder of a teenage girl and nothing becomes of it. Real fine dective work. You have the bad protecting the bad and now person’s are left with destroyed family horror that they will live every day of their lives. The BEST I heard out of the tragic wrongful death of Danielle Willard from the SLCPD was “an apology”, and people are supposed to live with that ? I don’t think so and it’s coming VERY close to being US against THEM, then things are REALLY going to change, and it won’t he pretty. So maybe take your head out of the sand and take a close look at what is REALLY going on around you and you just might start seeing things in both a proper and horrendous light that might get you thinking different about the ongoing police state of public police brutality and then you might find yourself standing for your self preservation as your new way of life. You CANNOT trust what the police say or do anymore, and if you turn your back on them then YOU very well may be their next victim / casualty with them telling your family lies with their patented cover up schemes for their justification to again use deadly force when confronted by the next chihuahua. Good luck buddy and I hope we’re not reading YOUR obituary next……..

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