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Innocent shooting raises questions: will Salt Lake City attorneys get involved in death of pet

July 24, 2014

Recently, the story of a Utah police officer shooting a dog in its owner’s backyard went viral, and perhaps with good reason, Salt Lake City attorneys say. Beginning with a video posted to Facebook, the story gathered steam via social and news media, and the resulting outrage by the public has raised questions over the series of events that led to the death of the innocent, reportedly non-aggressive pet. According to this article in the Salt Lake Tribune,  police officers were searching for a missing 3-year-old boy in the Sugar House area when one of the officers entered a private backyard and shot a Weimaraner in the head, killing it on the absent owner’s property.

The video that went viral shows the owner of the dog, Sean Kendall, confronting the Salt Lake City police officer upon arriving at his house and learning that his dog had been killed. He reports that he received a phone call from Animal Control informing him of the situation, and asks the question the public has since been demanding an answer to: “What was the cause for an officer to shoot and kill my dog?” It has not yet been reported whether Kendall is looking into getting legal counsel from Salt Lake City attorneys, and the city’s police department “has revealed little information about the shooting except to say that the dog acted aggressively when the officer entered its backyard as he searched for the missing child.”

The officer who pulled the trigger remained on duty and was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, but the comments on the news articles and in social media about the incident demand that the results aren’t good enough. The executive director of the Humane Society of Utah speaks for much of the public response when he queries, “Why, when there are so many non-lethal alternatives available (pepper spray, tasers, batons, etc.), that this officer hose to use deadly force as his first go-to option?”

Unfortunately, according to some Salt Lake City attorneys, Kendall may not have any legal recursive action available to him. Litigators for civil suits like Robert T. Spjute don’t encourage Kendall to be hopeful about filing a case, as property damage claims will likely be small comfort in the face the grief incurred by the death of a pet.

This has been a big enough deal of an incident that the City Council has commented on it, sending a letter to Police Chief Chris Burbank and informing the police department of an independent review to be conducted by the Police Civilian Review Board, with the request that “both investigations be thorough and deliberate, with the results released to the public as soon as possible.”

But even local Salt Lake City attorneys like Spjute acknowledge that the results of the report will do little to appease the anger of the community, which is partly why the City Council has requested that Burbank “educate” the public on policies of law enforcement surrounding searching for a missing child. No one wants to see another incident like this one anytime soon.

 

 

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