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Tag: idaho

Idaho officer violated policy when he shot dog through van window, review says

arfee2Two investigations have concluded that an Idaho police officer used unnecessary force when he shot a dog who lunged at him as he snuck up to a van’s partially open window.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said an internal review found that the shooting of Arfee by officer Dave Kelly — the bullet went through the window glass —was unjustified.

A separate Use of Deadly Force Review Board unanimously concluded that Kelley’s actions “were in violation of the department policies reviewed.”

Officer Kelly remains on duty, though, and city officials aren’t saying what disciplinary action, if any, he might face, according to the  Associated Press

“An argument can be made that Officer Kelley’s decision to shoot was reasonable when the dog lunged through the partially open window mere inches away from his face and throat,” White said. “However, given the totality of the circumstances, the use-of-force reviews found Officer Kelley’s use of force to be out of policy in this incident.”

The department initially reported that an officer shot and killed a “vicious pit bull” that lunged at him from inside a van on July 9 — but later corrected the breed. Arfee was a lab mix. Kelly was not identified by name by the department until last week.

The dog’s owner, Craig Jones, had left Arfee parked in the shade with the windows partly open while he went to a coffee shop.

City Attorney Mike Gridley declined to comment on whether any disciplinary action would be taken against Kelley, who has 17 years of law enforcement experience, the last seven with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

Officer Kelley, in an incident report filed immediately after the incident, said the van was being checked due previous reports in the area of a person in a similar van trying to entice children. He said he drew his weapon as he approached the driver’s side door of the van.

“I was at the driver’s side door/window, when suddenly I saw a black dog’s head and neck lunge through the open window,” Kelley wrote. “The dog was aggressively barking and growling, and its mouth was within inches of my face. I had the split second thought that this dog is going to bite me, and bite me immediately.”

The use-of-force investigation said that, even if Arfee’s head was outside the window, Kelley’s response — firing a bullet, that went through the window glass — was not reasonable.

“Officer Kelley, a seasoned officer of over 15 years of experience, was in an open parking lot with an open business, in the middle of the day, with citizens around and (another) officer … on the other side of the van. This was a case where Officer Kelley did not have anything behind him to prevent him from gaining distance,”  police Lt. Robert Turner wrote in the report.

Police Chief White said the shooting has shaken the community’s confidence in the police department, but added, “… The relationship between our community and our department will ultimately be strengthened as a direct result of how we respond to the situation and how we improve our agency to prevent similar situations from occurring.”

Mayor apologizes for Arfee’s shooting

arfee2The mayor of Coeur d’Alene publicly apologized for a police officer’s fatal shooting of a dog in a parked van last week, and promised a full investigation into the dog’s death.

“We as a city again want to offer our complete apology to Mr.  Jones,” Mayor Steve Widmyer said at last night’s City Council meeting.

Widmyer said the city will “take full responsibility” for the death of the 2-year-old black Lab mix, named Arfee, if the investigation determines mistakes were made.

Arfee was alone in a parked van when a police officer — as yet unnamed — approached it from the rear during an investigation. The officer says the dog lunged at him when he neared the partially opened window. He fired one shot — through the window glass — hitting Arfee in the chest and killing him.

Police Chief Ron Clark also spoke at the start of last night’s council meeting, calling the shooting “a regrettable tragedy.” He said he has spoken to the dog’s owner, Craig Jones, a former Coeur d’Alene resident now living in Colorado who was visiting the Idaho city during the 4th of July weekend.

“I told him how sorry I was about this incident,” the chief said. “And we had a good conversation. We discussed the entire situation and also about how it was unintended.”

Jones left Arfee in the van while he went out to breakfast and returned to find a bullet hole through the window, according to the Spokesman-Review.

In a news release after the shooting, police said they were responding to a report of a suspicious van, possibly containing someone watching young children. When an officer approached the van on the driver’s side, “a vicious Pit Bull dog lunged out the open driver’s side window toward the Officer’s face,” the release said.

Police removed the dog’s body and left before Jones returned to this van. Police later said the dog was a Lab mix, not a pit bull.

A witness to the shooting also spoke at last night’s council meeting.

“Everything that I witnessed appeared to be a complete cover-up,” Jessi Johnson told the council. “Everybody watched and nobody did the right thing.”

Police Chief Clark said the department’s investigation will be reviewed by the city’s legal department, the administration and an outside authority yet to be identified. The results will he shared with the public, he said.

“I’m going to do everything I can to avoid anything like this happening in the future,” he added.

The officer involved will be reassigned from patrol to office duty until the investigation and reviews are completed, Clark said. The city has withheld the officer’s name and the officer’s report on the incident, according to the Spokesman-Review.

A case of mistaken identities in Idaho

arfie

Not every white van is driven by a child predator.

Not every large dog is a pit bull.

Why police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, wanted to check out a white van parked near a coffee shop Wednesday morning is understandable: It fit the description of one being used by a child predator, and the coffee shop owners had called to report someone inside it was watching young children from a nearby parking lot.

Why the officer shot the van’s only occupant — a dog  –  is a little less understandable.

And why investigators called the dog a “vicious pit bull” makes even less sense.

Arfee was a black lab, according to his owner, Craig Jones, who was eating breakfast at a nearby restaurant — not scoping out children — when the officer approached his van from behind with his gun drawn.

When the dog lunged toward him out of the partially open driver’s side window the officer fired one round, through the window, hitting Arfee in the chest. He later died.

Jones said Arfee, who was two years old, did not have a mean bone in his body. “This still isn’t even real to me,” Jones told KREM 2 News.

“If my dog is barking and wondering who’s peering through the windows he doesn’t care if you’re a cop, an attorney, or President Bush,” said Jones. “He doesn’t know any difference.”

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark said the department is reviewing the shooting, and said initial police reports describing the dog as a pit bull were erroneous.

“Animal control officers originally identified the dog as a pit bull,” he said. “The Police Department had a veterinarian examine the dog and it has been identified as a lab mix.”

“We understand the grief the family is dealing with due to the loss of their pet. We also understand the distress this has caused for citizens,” Clark said. “The officer who shot the dog is also distraught over this incident.”

Arfee’s owner, who formerly lived in Coeur d’Alene, was visiting for the 4th of July weekend, according to the Spokesman-Review.

“Best 4th of July weekend in cda eva,” Jones, who now lives in Colorado, posted on his Facebook page earlier in the week.

On Wednesday, he posted this: “Cda cops just shot my dog while I ate lunch at Java?”

Yesterday, he thanked his Facebook friends for their support. “Today is definitely harder than yesterday. Just seeing his ball in my rig tears me apart,” he wrote. “This cop left a hole in both of (us) that can’t be fixed.”

(Photo: Craig Jones’ Facebook page)

Idaho dog shooting leads to recall drive

If you think dogs don’t play a role in politics, consider Hooch.

Shot and killed by a police officer in February in the tiny town of Filer, Idaho, the seven-year-old black Lab is the force behind a petition to recall the town’s mayor and all four members of its city council.

Residents — and more than a few outsiders — are still angry over Officer Tarek Hassani’s shooting of the dog, recorded by his patrol car’s dashboard cam and since seen, thanks to the Internet, around the world.

In the video, he can be seen arriving to investigate a report of a dog on the loose, yelling and kicking at the barking animal, shooting it, and then confronting the dog’s owner in a belligerent (and that’s putting it nicely) manner.

An “outside” investigation found no wrongdoing on his part, and Hassani, on paid leave pending the results of the investigation, returned to regular duty this past Saturday.

recallOn Tuesday, the effort to recall the mayor and council started, the Twin Falls Times-News reported.

After the shooting, there were demonstrations, and officials in the city of just over 2,500 people held public hearings that led to some changes, including scheduling training sessions for officers on how to deal with dogs.

“I think they’re going to do their best to make the recall work,” said Mayor Rick Dunn. “They only needed 20 (signatures) to start the process, and they’ve gotten that far.”

Gathering 20 signatures for each city leader’s recall petition is only a first step. Organizers now have 75 days to gather 201 signatures for each official — 10 percent of the number of voters registered in the last city election – to bring about a recall election.

filerhearingAn investigation by the Nampa Police Department, about 150 miles northwest of Filer, found the shooting was justified, but it did question why the officer didn’t stay in his vehicle, call the owner of the dogs or call for backup.

Town officials have scheduled a mandatory eight-hour training session on how to deal with aggressive dogs for Filer’s police officers on May 3.

Mayor Dunn said fallout from the shooting has placed the town in a bad light.

“I hate to see that,” he said. “Filer is a nice town: We have good staff, good people here. Give Filer a little more credit than this.”

(Photos: Top, Mike Preston and his wife, Brenda, sign a recall petition, by Ashley Smith / Times-News; bottom, citizens who, because of the size of the crowd, couldn’t get into a town hearing on the case in February, by Drew Nash / Times-News)

Dashboard cam captures officer’s fatal shooting of an Idaho family’s dog

As a family in southern Idaho celebrated their son’s 9th birthday inside, a police officer pulled in front of their house, warned two unleashed and barking dogs to get away, then shot one of them, fearing it was going to attack him – all as his dashboard cam recorded the scene.

Warning: The video is disturbing and contains some profanity.

As the police car’s windshield wipers slap away, the officer can be heard telling the dogs to “get back … move!” as he gets out of his car. He can be seen kicking at one dog, then pointing his gun at him — as if a dog would understand that warning.

Then, almost casually it appears, he shoots the dog in the front yard before heading to the family’s front door, while telling dispatchers over the radio, in case they received reports of shots being fired, that it was him: ”I just shot the dog.”

In the four minutes that follow he can be heard, but not seen, informing the dog’s owner what happened — mostly by screaming at him:

“Is this your dog? … I just shot your dog because it tried to bite me. Okay? I come here for a f—ing call and it tried to bite me.”

It happened Saturday, when Filer police officer Tarek Hassani arrived to check on a complaint of dogs running at large. The dashboard video was obtained Monday by the Times-News in southern Idaho.

Rick Clubb said his son’s birthday party was wrapping up about 5:30 p.m. when the 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, named Hooch, was shot outside his home.

Clubb said he suffers Parkinson’s disease, and Hooch, who did not survive, was his trained service animal.

Clubb was he plans to fight the ticket Hassani issued him for an unleashed dog. He added, “He didn’t have to pull out his .45 and shoot my dog. It was right outside my son’s bedroom. What if it had ricocheted through the window?”

Filer Police Chief Tim Reeves said Hassani said that the officer had no choice but to shoot the Lab because it was behaving aggressively.

Clearly, Filer police could use some training on how to deal with dogs, other than using lethal force.

Judging from the one-sided conversation Hassani had with Clubb, they could use some training in being civil as well.

“It’s aggressing me. its’ growling at me,” Hassani can be heard telling Clubb minutes after the shooting. ” … I’m not going to get bit. The last time I got bit I ended up in the ER and I ended up with stitches in my hand … Your dog aggresses me … all of it’s teeth are showing, aggressing me, what am I supposed to think? I yelled at it, I even kicked it a couple of times to get it away from me. It kept charging toward me so I shot it … I love dogs, but I’m not going to be bit again.”

“Is he dead?” Clubb finally asks.

“I think so, yes,” Hassani says.

Roadside Encounters: Charlie

Name: Charlie

Breed: Saint Bernard

Age: 4

Encountered: At a rest area in western Montana, just a couple of miles before the Idaho state line.

Backstory: Charlie, a female with a sweet disposition, was headed back home to Seattle from a road trip to Wisconsin. She lumbered out of the car to meet Ace, but Ace was more interested in the treats her owner — a former Baltimore resident — had in her pocket. Ace and Charlie stared at each other, sniffed, and munched some more treats together before doing their business and climbing back into their respective cars and rolling through Idaho.

The five best states to be an animal abuser

aldfmap

 
Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota are the five best states in the country to be an animal abuser — making them the five worst states in which to be an animal.

Based on an analysis of more than 3,800 pages of statutes, a new report by the Animal Legal Defense Fund recognizes the states where animal law has real teeth, and calls out those like Kentucky – the single worst in the nation again this year for animal protection laws – where animal abusers get off the easiest.

The annual report, the only one of its kind in the nation, ranks all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories for the comprehensiveness and  strength of their animal protection laws. Maryland falls in the bottom 15 states.

The legislative weaknesses seen in the states at the bottom of the animal protection barrel include severely restricted or absent felony animal cruelty provisions, inadequate animal fighting provisions, and lack of restrictions on the future ownership of animals for those convicted of cruelty to animals.

Many state laws have improved since ALDF’s last state rankings report was released in 2008; Arkansas, for example, was one of the worst five states last year, but jumped up to 25th overall in the country in 2009 due to a host of statutory improvements.

On the other end of the spectrum, this year’s “best five for animals” list remains unchanged from the 2008 list, with California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan and Oregon demonstrating through their laws the strongest commitment to combating animal cruelty; Illinois was ranked the best for the strength of its laws protecting animals.

“This year we see many states and territories that are continuing to make outstanding progress with their laws. Unfortunately, there are still many places where the laws are incapable of providing the legal protections that our country’s animals need and deserve,” says Stephan Otto, Animal Legal Defense Fund’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report.

“Even in those jurisdictions that have today’s best laws, there remain many opportunities for improvement. Especially important during our country’s current recession are laws that help to save limited community resources by reducing the costs of caring for abused animals and ensuring that those who are responsible for such crimes shoulder this burden instead of taxpayers and private interests. While animals do not vote, those who love and care about them certainly do, so we encourage lawmakers throughout the country to take heed and commit to working to improve these critical laws.”

ALDF was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, including a copy of the state rankings report, visit www.aldf.org.