Dog owner confronts officer after police shoot and kill his dog

Dog owner confronts officer after police shoot and kill his dog

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(KUTV) -- The owner of a dog shot and killed by a Salt Lake City police officer last week released video of his initial confrontation with two other officers before finding his dog lying in his backyard.

Sean Kendall begins the video by narrating his ride home from work on June 18, after an animal control officer called to tell him a police officer had defended himself by shooting Kendall's dog. Click here to watch his original video but be warned, there is graphic language in the video.

Police had been in the neighborhood searching for a missing three-year-old boy.

The story above is via KUTV, our affiliate station in Salt Lake City. Mobile users, click here to watch the story.

"About 15 mins ago, I got a phone call from Utah Animal Control, calling to tell me that an officer had shot and killed my dog," Kendall said. "He was inside my backyard in a fenced-off area. What was the cause for the officer to shoot and kill my dog?"

Kendall arrives at his Sugar House home, gets out of his vehicle and confronts two officers. The policeman who shot his dog had already left the property.

"What was the probable cause to trespass on private property and shoot my dog?" an infuriated Kendall shouted.

Kendall's 110-pound Weimaraner named Geist was his best friend and more like an only child than a pet. He celebrated birthdays with the two-year-old "goofball" with cake and presents.

Salt Lake City police spokesperson Robin Heiden said last week the officer had felt threatened enough to need to fire his weapon, but she declined to release more information until an internal affairs investigation is complete.

A local civil litigation attorney who has no connection to the case agreed discuss with 2News the legal issues in the case.

Did the officer legally enter Kendall's property? Pankratz believes both parties could make a case for that question.

Under Utah and United States law, police generally need to have probable cause and a warrant to search a private property. However, the "exigent circumstance doctrine" allows certain exceptions, including missing child searches.

"If there's just not time to get a warrant or there's a very good reason to go onto that property, a police officer under certain circumstances is justified entering onto that property," said attorney Craig Pankratz. "If a police officer has reason to believe that that child is there, I think that's a good reason to enter on the property."

But did the officer actually believe the child was on that property, a block and a half from the boy's home? He would later be found sleeping in his own basement.

The more critical question, according to Pankratz, is whether or not the officer legitimately felt threatened before firing two shots.

Kendall wonders why he didn't use less excessive force, such as pepper spray or a stun gun.

"The dog has to be posing a threat to your safety or the safety of another person before you justify using the firearm and putting the dog down," Pankratz said. "If the dog is all the way across the yard barking and growling, that's one thing. But if he's within a foot, two feet, three feet, close proximity within the officer,  that's another thing."

Kendall believes that the officer was 20 feet from his dog when he fired, but police have not released a distance.

Kendall also wants to know why the officer did not try to call him to ask him to search his yard.

The chief will review the results of the investigation once it has been completed.
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