Tag: law enforcement
Remember that California man who was shot with a stun gun by a National Park Service ranger who stopped him for walking his dogs off leash?
Gary Hesterberg may not have been entirely in the right when he sassed the park ranger and refused to give her his name, but the ranger was definitely in the wrong when she zapped him with her stun gun when he tried to leave the scene, a federal judge has ruled.
Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled that Ranger Sarah Cavallaro used unlawful and unreasonable force, and she awarded Hesterberg $50,000 in damages for physical and mental suffering, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The incident unfolded on the afternoon of Jan. 29, 2012, when Hesterberg, 50, of Montara took his two dogs on a hike in the Rancho Corral de Tierra open space. Both dogs — a beagle named Jack and a rat terrier named JoJo — had been there many times before, and often walked unleashed.
While the Rancho had always had rules that dogs be kept on-leash, they’d never been too heavily enforced.
But when the land was acquired by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the park service made plans to change that, and ranger Cavallaro had been assigned to start spreading the word that day that stricter enforcement was coming.
When Cavallaro stopped Hesterberg to talk to him about the new rules, the conversation grew heated. Hesterberg said in court that he gave the ranger a fake last name because he didn’t “want to be placed on some offending dog walker … list.”
Hesterberg questioned Cavallaro’s authority and told the ranger he was leaving. She pointed her stun gun at him and told him to stay put.
When Hesterburg turned to leave. Cavallaro fired, hitting him in the back and buttocks. He was arrested on suspicion of failing to obey a lawful order, keeping dogs off-leash and providing false information, but San Mateo County prosecutors declined to file charges.
In her ruling, the judge found that Hesterberg, though uncooperative, never posed an immediate threat to Cavallaro, and that the circumstances didn’t justify the ranger’s use of force.
(Photo: San Francisco Chronicle)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: california, dog walking, federal, force, gary hesterberg, golden gate national recreation area, hiking, judge, law, law enforcement, leashed, national park service, park ranger, parks, rancho corral de tierra, shot, stun gun, unleashed, unreasonable
Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.
Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.
The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.
“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”
In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.
He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.
His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.
“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”
What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.
The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.
And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.
Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.
“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”
In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.
Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.
When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.
She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”
A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.
Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.
(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, baltimore, bite, bitten, court, cut, dog, dogs, hearing, hero, jeffrey bolger, killed, knife, law enforcement, nala, not guilty, officer, plea, police, pregnant, rabies, sharpei, slit, thomas schmidt, throat, trial, woman
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.”
Posted by John Woestendiek September 9th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arfee, couer d'alene, craig jones, dave kelly, department, dog, dogs, idaho, killed, lab, labrador, law enforcement, mix, officer, pets, police, shot
“Let me give you a public apology right now on behalf of the city of Houston,” Mayor Annise Parker said. “I don’t know what airhead – there’s another word in my mind but I’m not going to say it – would throw, you wouldn’t put a kid on the side of the road. You shouldn’t put someone’s pet on the side of the road.”
The airheaded officer has not been identified.
But police say an internal investigation of the incident is underway, and that it could take six months to complete.
As reported by KTRK, the complaint stems from a July 14 traffic stop. Josie Garcia says her husband and a friend were pulled over for failing to use a turn signal. Police say they found drugs in the vehicle — a prescription medicine called phencyclidine — and arrested both men. (The charges against Garcia’s husband were later dropped.)
According to Garcia, the arresting officer wouldn’t let her husband call anyone to pick up Guero, the family’s 14-year-old Chihuahua who was along for the ride.
Guero had bad vision due to cataracts, she says. He was left on the side of the highway when the vehicle was towed, and the officer took no steps to contact animal control, Garcia said.
“My husband pleaded with the officer to let him call someone to come get Guero … but he said it wasn’t his problem, that the dog would be fine,” Garcia said.
Three days later, Garcia, who had posted “lost” signs in the area, received a call from someone who had spotted Guero. She found him dead on a shoulder of the Eastex Freeway, about half a mile from where he had been left.
Guero wrapped the dog’s body in a towel, took him home and buried him.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 1st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, airheaded, animals, annise parker, apologizes, apology, blind, cataracts, chihuahua, complaint, dog, dogs, eastex, freeway, guero, highway, houston, investigation, killed, law enforcement, left, mayor, pets, police, road
That police in St. Clair Shores in Michigan saw killing a dog as the preferable way to stop her barking has been pretty well documented in dash cam videos that have become public.
As soon as they pulled up at the scene, their dashboard camera recorded remarks they were making inside their patrol car, like “The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it” and “I don’t do snares. I don’t do dogs … I’ll shoot the f—ing thing.”
But why there were 15 bullet holes in Lexie, a dog police officers only admitted to shooting four times, is a question that may go unanswered — at least until a federal lawsuit filed by the dog’s owner comes to trial.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, stems from the November 2013 shooting of Lexie, a 44-pound mixed breed who was the subject of a barking dog complaint filed by a neighbor.
Lexie’s owner, Brittay Preston, filed the lawsuit against the city of St. Clair Shores, two police officers and an animal control officer, according to Fox News in Detroit. It alleges a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure.
The lawsuit seeks money damages, and assurances that St. Clair Township police will “train their officers so that there’s not another incident where they respond to a barking dog complaint by killing it,” said Preston’s attorney, Chris Olson.
Preston was at work and the dog was under the care of a grandfather, who suffers from dementia and forgot to let Lexie back inside during a cold night.
Officers, after discussing their alternatives in the patrol car, approached the home and eventually persuaded the grandfather to let the dog in the house. After he agreed to do so, they shot the dog saying she lunged at them in a threatening manner.
Attorney Olson said the discussion recorded by the dash came shows the shooting was premeditated.
“Neighbors complained of a dog that was barking. [Police] showed up. The first thing that they said out of their mouths was they don’t like dogs; they don’t do dogs; they’re going to shoot the dog anyway. And that’s exactly what they did,” he said.
“Then they shot the dog again, instead of trying to take care of the dog, getting some care of the dog to prevent it from dying, they did what they intended to do. They made sure that the dog died. They shot it again, and then the dog walked into the animal control van and then when we picked up the dog it had extra bullet holes,” he added.
A necropsy conducted by a veterinarians found 15 bullet holes in Lexie.
Officers, after shooting and wounding the dog, can be heard discussing what to do next, including “choking it out” and “using a shovel,” according to the lawsuit.
One officer remarked that would be a bad idea because “you know this is going to be all over Facebook in about an hour.”
“We’re saddened when anyone loses a pet, but since the city and its employees are being sued, the city will certainly defend the lawsuit,” St. Clair Shores City Attorney Robert Ihrie said in a statement. “The complaint that was filed is filled with innuendo, speculation and half truths, and I have no doubt when it’s held up to the light of day, the truth will bear itself out in court.”
(Photo: from the Justice for Lexie Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 15 bullet holes, animals, barking, brittany preston, brittay preston, cam, complaint, conversation, dash, dashboard, dog, dogs, federal, Fourth amendment, justice 4 lexie, justice for lexie, killed, law enforcement, lawsuit, lexie, michigan, necropsy, nuisance, officers, pets, police, recorded, shooting, shot, st. clair shores
“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.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arfee, car, coeur dalene, craig jones, dog, dogs, idaho, investigation, killed, killing, lab mix, law enforcement, officer, parked, pets, pit bull, police, shot, van, window
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)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 11th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arfee, arfie, black lab, child, coeur dalene, craig jones, dog, dogs, idaho, investigation, killed, lab, labrador, labrador retriever, law enforcement, parked, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, police, predator, profiling, shot, stereotypes, van