Owner of dog killed by cop sues Salt Lake City PD for $1.5 million

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A dog was shot and killed by Salt Lake City police in June of this year, and now the dog's owner says he is suing the police department for $1.5 million in damages.

Sean Kendall said police violated his Fourth Amendment rights when an officer entered his backyard and had a fatal encounter with Kendall's dog, Geist. The dog was shot by the officer, who said he felt threatened by the animal.

"Geist was my best friend for two and a half years," Kendall said.

Police said in the past they believe they were justified in entering the yard, as they were searching for a 3-year-old child with disabilities who had been reported missing. That child was later located inside the child's home.  Kendall said the search was poorly executed and led to a violation of  his rights as well as in Geist's death.

Kendall had previously been offered a settlement in the case, which he declined as he said he wanted to focus on lobbying for change in the way officers are trained in encounters with animals. He has been active in numerous protests regarding the way police respond to animals.

Salt Lake City Police Department officials declined to speak regarding the pending litigation.

FOX 13 News' Caroline Connolly has more on this story, see the video above for her report.

85 comments

  • BOB

    The SLPD should have acknowledged their mistake instead of trying to excuse it. A jury won’t have sympathy for a police officer entering a fenced backyard and shooting a dog when the officer could have simple gone back out. Additionally the police don’t need this blackeye. This serves them right.

    • JEWLZZZ

      Yes, it was only a dog. An expensive dog that Sean loved, and who loved him in return. Decent people would suggest that Geist was a family member. While they won’t admit it publically the police know they screwed up, and they need their hand slapped.

      • Rich

        I’ll repeat… It was a dog. An aggressive dog without the owner around. There was a child missing and every nook and cranny should always be searched. End of story…. Get over it.

      • beetles

        Rich, it was a dog responding to an aggressive intruder, behaving as one with any sense would expect a dog to behave against an unknown intruder. The dog was securely confined in a yard behind a high fence which Officer Olsen aggressively and needlessly invaded.

    • Suzanne

      Believe it or not there are those of us who love and value our pets as members of our family. Your comment is pure ignorance!

    • Jim

      Well said Rich. If he would have killed a child or a person, I can see how this would be a different story, but honestly The police already tried to compensate, now the guy is just being greedy…

      • Bobfurapples

        Amen, Richard.
        I thought the same thing when I saw how much he was going to sue for.
        People are sue happy.
        I bet many people, if in the same situation, would have done the same thing.
        Get over it, indeed.

      • Charlotte Elrod

        he is not being greedy, he is trying to put a large spotlight on a huge and growing problem…cops shooting pets without regard or even trying to diffuse a situation without violence….EVERY DAY somewhere in this country another innocent family pet is murdered because cops refuse to get proper training and are trigger happy and IT HAS TO STOP !!!!

    • Roy

      Yes just a dog but it was not the officers dog! Cop shoots my dog I sue! You don’t like dogs much I take it. What if it were your dog? Would you be so asinine?

    • Trish Ramirez

      And the negligent, brain-dead twit (replace the ‘i’ for an ‘a’ for a more accurate description) mother of the NOT MISSING, SIMPLY IGNORED child should be a co-defendant in this lawsuit. No one’s Constitutional rights become null and void simply because an inbred breeder can’t watch and contain her toddler. I hope that he wins his lawsuit, but he wont. Dogs are chattel according to the law. He might win the replacement value of his dog, but we all know that a pet can’t be replaced by another any more than a child can. It’s a shame that the cop responsible wasn’t held accountable. Here’s to hoping PETA will take matters into their hands and do something appropriate.

      • Bill

        I think it’s the flagrant violation of Sean’s fourth amendment rights that these officers swore to uphold, but instead disregarded that is at issue here. Expensive lesson but worth more than 1.5 mil to have trust in the police again.

    • Michelle

      I agree. Our society has really blurred the lines between the value of a human versus that of an animal. I have a dog that I love dearly. I would be upset if anything were to happen to him, but I understand that locating a missing child is MUCH MORE value than the life of my dog. I’m sure if it was your child, you would hope the officers would go to any length to locate them for you.

    • Richard

      You don’t know that this don’t know that this dog was aggressive. Just because a child is missing doesn’t excuse the pigs from violating someone’s rights and entering their property without a warrant. This pig was a trigger-happy coward. I would take a dog any day over a idiot like you.

    • Cathy Lemke

      people need to get over this “its just a dog” bullcrap! SOMEONES FAMILY MEMBER IS DEAD BECAUSE OF A TRIGGER HAPPY SCUMBAG! What would u say if it was YOURE family member?

    • Lizz Huie-Fulks

      It more than about the dog or about being greedy. This officer violated this man’s 4th amendment right. The office did not have permission to go onto his property. How would you like it if an officer just decided to come onto your property without your permission??? There was no way that 3 year old could have gotten into that man’s backyard. The cop was trigger happy and obviously doesn’t care about civilians’ rights.

    • Erich

      Rich you can live in your world where you’re controlled, violated and acted upon. You probably don’t have things or loved ones. That is why you have such an ignorant myopic view.

    • Charlotte Elrod

      Perhaps if the parents of the alleged missing child had searched their house better this tragedy would never have happened, but it did and whether you like dogs or not, Geist had the right to be aggressive to a stranger that entered HIS backyard and territory being as he would not know whether this person was friendly or a threat to his humans. Bottom line is, the officer should have gone to the front door first and sought permission to enter the yard.

    • Sakura

      Well the kid that they were trying to find was just a kid. Retarded one at that. in my opinion dogs are more important than children. This was a murder and this was not just a dog this was a family member.

    • Mary

      And apparently Rich is just a waste of space without a brain. Nobody cares what people like you think so do us all a favor and get lost.

    • beetles

      It’s only a breach of his constitutional rights and a little excessive force. Oh, and the unnecessary slaughter of a family dog. Get over it.

    • Deanna Frazier

      I pity you. Anyone who would look at it that way has obviously never loved a dog, or been loved by a dog. That, to me, is one sad, pathetic person.

  • Kat223

    I hope Kendall gets EVERY penny. Dogs are not just dogs but companions and family. Rich YOU get over it because obviously don’t get it. It’s not that Giest died but that they violated his rights as a property owner. Maybe you don’t care about your property but others do we and we will fight to protect it.

    • Bobfurapples

      So…. a child is missing…. you aren’t home. YOU believe no one (police or otherwise) should enter your property to find the child because they’ll be violating rights?
      Wow.
      Hope you’re not my neighbor.

      • BOB

        BOBFURAPPLES – So…. a child is missing…. you aren’t home. The police entery your fenced back yard and shoot one of your family members. Opps …. the missing child was later found asleep in his own basement.

      • Trish Ramirez

        Your inability to watch your child does not invalidate my Constitutional rights. You don’t want to be my neighbor because I don’t want the cops breaking into my home in violation of the law? I would prefer not having neighbors so negligent and ignorant that they can’t keep their own toddler supervised and contained.

      • Sam

        The child was within his own home!!! What parent looses their child in there own home!! Still gives no right to shoot a neighbors dog!

  • Police Supporter

    This will be thrown out and should be , who do you think will will pay for that? It’s us! What a stupid idea that that we would punish ourselves for the actions of one of the people we choose to do the things most people can’t handle on their own.

    • Trish Ramirez

      The taxpayers who elect and support corrupt cops that violate the Constitutional rights of citizens SHOULD be footing the bill for their heinous behavior. If you don’t want to pay for the behavior for corrupt cops, stop allowing them to be hired and give positions of authority. You support this cop, you pay for his crimes.

  • COACHJENS

    The first thing you learn when dealing with any government agency, and that includes the police, is that admitting to a mistake isn’t something that comes easily.

    • BOB

      Most people realize that in all probablity there will an out of court settlement for a whole lot less. In the meantime the SLCPD will be the recipient of a whole lot of bad publicity that they absolutely don’t want.

    • Bobfurapples

      H8BOB – man. Thank you for the laugh.
      Not just dogs, but think of how many more rallies he can attend because he has our hard earned tax dollars.
      Glad to know I’m waking up every morning for work and saving puppies everywhere.

    • Frank

      The fact that the police department even considered a 10k settlement means the department and the officer are in the wrong. If Sean only sued for 100K it would not have the same impact on the news and I think that is the goal. Geist should still be alive today and I hope that the case raises police awareness that shooting animals is only a last resort. Go Sean & Geist. :)

  • Miranda

    I cannot believe that some people don’t understand that this is about rights being taken away. We have rights in this country and that includes my private property. Yard, dog, house, etc. It absolutely does not matter the circumstances, if I have not given you permission to be on my property, you cannot come in. You certainly cannot come onto my property and kill my family member because someone else was looking for their family member. Unfortunately with cases like these you have to hit the pocket book in order to make a difference. It’s too bad that these days we have to sue for money in order to make a point or to see any change. I hope he wins and it forces police to make changes and acknowledge our rights.

  • Mimi

    One million for what? So you can get rich and have the satisfaction of getting revenge?? Great idea! Let’s take money from the police department so that they can’t afford to purchase things that they need to keep the public safe just because your sore over them killing your poor little innocent pooch (insert sarcasm)! Dumb jerk.

    • Lizz Huie-Fulks

      It is not about him being greedy. It is about his rights. The only way law enforcer makes any changes regarding their policies and procedures is if they have to out money in regards to lawsuits. The cop had no right to set foot on his property to search without a warrant or permission from the property owner. OUR 4th amendment is about those rights. If someone does not stand up to law enforcement regarding our 4th amendment rights then eventually none of them will and we will lose that right. This lawsuit is all about making law enforcement wake up and stop being so trigger happy and think they are above the law. I am not saying all law enforcement are like this but there seems to be a trend.

  • Doug

    The SLCPD were out of line but in no way were they $1.5m out of line. This is a money grab plain and simple. Lobby for improved police policies but to claim this incident left $1.5m in damages is a joke!

  • Kendra Wall

    First things first I have 3 dogs never in my life do I remember not having a dog in my family! Having said that I would never put them in the same category as any of my family members! If there is a child any child missing come into my yard, my garage, And if you truly feel that child might have found a way in my house and might be in danger Enter!!! If this man loved his dog as much as he says then obviously if his dog was in danger he would want the police or an ACO officer working and doing their best to find or protect him or his dog! I find it amazing that a police officer or any other human does not get this much attention when they get shot, and no one is paying thier family this kind of money! And I can garentee that thier human rights have been violated. This officer did not know the child was safe..he was doing his job, hopefully the same as we would want him to do for us! We all need to really rethink what we are really fighting for or soon no one will take us serious!

  • Barry Soetoro

    I don’t know what’s worse; Kendall’s lawsuit, the QQ over the dog getting put down, or Fox wasting web space on this ridiculous story.

  • H8bob

    Makes me wonder why this story is continuing to get covered. He was offered 10k and turned it down. “It’s not about the money”. Well trying to get 1.5 million sounds like it’s a little about the money. Take the 10k and buy a new dog. Take the old dead dog and have it stuffed and mounted above your fireplace and have a Merry Christmas!

  • Bryce

    The pd already offered to compensate, and the owner took the high road. Now he’s having second thoughts? 1) I wouldn’t have the “guts” to go after them for my dog, which is a special pet, but doesn’t have a birth certificate-not the same as human family – and 2) We the tax payers will pay that bill and the dog killer won’t care. This suit is hurting everyone except the cop (including the dog owner’s crusade)

  • Moi

    Been waiting for this….I can still remember him saying on camera how he would never sue for money because he just wanted change…..so this is no surprise.

  • jen

    so the moral of this story is… every bad guy needs to buy a dog so the police department wont come into your yard looking for a missing child. Because a loved pet is much more important than a missing child.

    • Tim Stout

      H8bob: Why should it matter what type of uniform a person is wearing when interacting with a dog, it’s still a person verses dog. I think that the real moral of the story is: That regardless of the justification, if police are going to take it upon themselves to trespass upon other peoples private enclosed property, that it is “Foreseeable” let me repeat this word because it is important, F-O-R-E-S-E-E-A-B-L-E, that people with enclosed yards have that fence there for a purpose, and it is highly likely that there could be a dog within the yard. And thus a trespasser even when acting under the pretense of the color of law has a duty to take advance precautions to avoid causing harm. Ignorance of foreseeable damaging consequences creates liability. As you will see! >>> Oh, and say hi to your buddies on the force for me will you!

  • Carl Almgren

    One of the best ways around this is to start applying the law as it is written for attacking a police dog. If you are being pursued by a police dog and assault it, then you are engaged in a felony assault on an office. If you kill the dog,you are up on felony charges for killing an officer. The same should apply to them, as if they killed a citizen. However, since we put police officers in a ‘position of trust’ then the penalty needs to be multiplied suitably, such as is done with teachers, scout leaders, or priests. And the organization they work for needs to be separately held accountable for not managing their own people.

  • Roberto

    Negligent parents and police led to the death of this beloved family member. The responsible dog owner should be compensated by both.

  • Suzanne Freniere

    Im so sorry for the loss of your best friend. I’m glad you are pursuing this. The police are out of control. The news is full of stories of the cops killing people, you never hear of all the dogs shot and killed for no reason, by them. Justice for Coco!

  • Bill

    Hope you get every penny and then some punitive damages on top of the $1.5 mil Sean. Shame on the out of control scumbags at SLCPD who are a bunch of power tripping psychopaths. They’re a walking contradiction and should pay dearly for violating the public’s trust.

  • Mel

    Yes its a dog, a part of the family, but when a child is missing there are no mistakes.. cops have to do what they have to do, no matter the consequences. If it was my dog and i love my pets, and it went towards the officer with aggression i would of expected the cop to do the same thing. Some look at it as a mistake but i look at it like there was a child in danger and\or missing and the child was more important than a 4 legged dog.

  • Christine

    I think Sean suing is justified. How about the fact that the child was found in their OWN home 30 minutes BEFORE the dog was shot? The dog was shot from across the yard, the officer could have closed the gate after seeing the dog. Sean was trying to change dog killing policy and training instead of taking the settlement of 10 grand. Police would not cooperate, so he is now suing to make a change. I highly doubt that he will keep all of the money, and will donate most of it to shelters and training programs.

  • Erich

    Haha you guys think it’s right for guys who go to police training for 6 months to walk around and do whatever they want? Haha how ignorant and myopic. Please leave your ideas of being controlled and acted upon back before the foundation of the country. Or… Go to a China. We don’t want you.

  • Sakura

    So…some mentally retarded kid got out of its cage and a dog ultimately had to pay the price with his life…this is a real tragedy.

  • Leslie

    This story is over a year old and the police’s story has changed twice do some research people before you put this man down. He is not doing this for the money that is why he didn’t settle. He is trying to get police procedure changed. Most police officers do not have to under go training on how to handle animals dogs to be specific. If a dog in running towards them barking 99.9% of the time that animal will be shot. They don’t care if it is a big dog or a little yappy dog barking is considered a sign of aggression so the officer is entitled to use deadly force to protect themselves. That should stop! Canine deaths at the hands of police number in the hundreds but the real number is untold. Most often just like in this case the police had no business being on the property to begin with. You can pull up videos of officers “accidentally” shooting dogs on youtube.

  • Mary

    I support you Sean! If the police is too dumb to get that they were the ones who trespassed and when you go to someone’s property without being allowed to then you’re supposed to feel threatened! You have every wright to sue them for that sum of money and even that won’t compensate the loss of a family member.

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