Fort Worth Grand Jury No-Bills Police Officer Who Hunted Down and Killed Lost Pet

Bentley, as pictured on the Star-Telegram website.

Bentley, as pictured on the Star-Telegram website.

Remember when a freak with a gun Fort Worth deputy police chief Kenneth Flynn was charged with animal cruelty after chasing down an owned, lost dog called Bentley with his SUV and shooting him in the street?  A grand jury failed to indict Flynn, who retired after the killing:

Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, a dog or coyote that has recently attacked a domestic animal may be killed by any person witnessing the attack or by the attacked animal’s owner if that owner had knowledge of the attack.

Welcome to Vagueville, home of gun nuts and regular people trying to live with their pets – and never the twain shall meet.

But yeah, that “knowledge of the attack” thing? A bit sketchy:

Flynn initially denied any involvement but later admitted to investigators that he shot at the dog with his city-issued .45-caliber Glock 30 after learning in a phone call from his sobbing wife that their cat was dead and being told by a neighbor that a German shepherd had been standing over the dead cat.

Denied any involvement. A hallmark of justified police actions – because when you know what you did is righteous, lie. And apparently no one saw any animal kill the cat. But a neighbor saw a German shepherd checking out the dead cat – a normal response from any dog – and she told someone who told someone who had a Glock. The perfect beginning to any story.

The Fort Worth police department meanwhile continues to investigate itself in the matter of the three responding officers who failed to file any report on the shooting. That too is more than a little dodgy:

When questioned by the officer, Flynn identified himself as a deputy chief with the department. Asked if he had shot at any dogs, Flynn “said he was not involved,” the affidavit states.

Two of the officers visually inspected Flynn’s city-issued SUV while the third officer chatted with Flynn and asked if the officers needed to “look further.”

“No, you’re good. You don’t need to keep looking,” Flynn responded, the affidavit states.

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. No need to file a report.  But I’m sure the Fort Worth PD is doing a bang-up job on the investigation.

Flynn’s lawyer applauds the no-bill from the grand jury but laments that his client decided to retire a few months earlier than originally planned due to his arrest – which the lawyer says was all just a bunch of political BS.  Right.  Because seeking a grand jury indictment on police officers when it’s obvious they’re going to get no-billed is totally the hottest thing right now.  Every politician wants one.  If nothing else, for the good will and feeling of trust it engenders within the community.

I hope Flynn takes up some other hobbies in retirement besides playing the Glock version of the telephone game.

Bentley’s owner, who only wants to be identified by his first name for fear of retaliation by the public servants he pays to protect him, still mourns the loss of his pet:

Bryan said he keeps Bentley’s cremated remains in a hallway of his home.  He said the circumstances behind the dog’s death —and whether anything would happen to the former deputy chief — had weighed heavily on him.

So uh, yay – one less thing to worry about.  Thanks Fort Worth!

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

UPDATED: Police Officer Reportedly Calls Dog to Him Then Shoots Dog to Death

Max, as shown on the WFAA website.

Max, as shown on the WFAA website.

In August, police in Cleburne, TX responded to a call about 3 loose dogs who had escaped their fenced yard.  One dog was reportedly captured without incident before police arrived.  The other two were located by a police officer, whose identity is being kept hidden by the department, who reported that the 7 month old puppy behaved in a threatening manner toward him, including growling, and that he had to shoot the puppy to death.

The puppy’s owner received the news and could not believe it.  Her puppy, called Max, had never acted in an aggressive manner and the story didn’t make sense to her.  So she FOIA’d the officer’s body cam footage of the shooting.  That footage (which I have not watched) reportedly shows the officer coaxing the two loose dogs to him, the dogs behaving in a friendly manner and the officer killing the puppy.

The Cleburne police department is investigating itself in the matter and hiding as many details as possible:

Cleburne police are now investigating, but say the short video clip of the dog being shot doesn’t tell the whole story.

[…]

A statement [police spokeswoman Kelly] Summey provided said the dog was indeed being aggressive before he was shot.

[…]

Summey wouldn’t tell News 8 if the officer in question is on leave during the investigation, or how long the investigation will take.

Summey also didn’t know how many dogs have been fatally shot by police in Cleburne in recent years.

You are not seeing what you are seeing.  We won’t tell you anything.  We know nothing.  Seems legit.

If anyone here has a stronger stomach than I have, please share your impressions of what’s shown in the video.  Do you hear any growling?  Do you see any body language from the dogs that would reasonably be interpreted as threatening?  Does it appear that the officer would reasonably be in fear of his safety based on the actions of the dogs?

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

***

UPDATE, added October 21, 2014 – The Fox affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth reports:

A city spokesperson said Monday that the Texas Rangers are being asked to conduct an investigation into the shooting, adding that the city will also be asking another outside agency to conduct a review.

[…]

In a police report regarding the incident, the officer involved said, “I raised my duty weapon to the ready position – pointed at the growling dog’s head. As soon as I lifted my pistol, the dog began coming up the hill, continuing to growl and display its teeth…I fired three shots at it.”

(Thanks Arlene for the link.)

Fort Worth Police Officer Charged with Animal Cruelty Only After Resident Forces Police to Do Their Jobs

In Fort Worth, TX, two dogs went for a romp around the neighborhood after a gate in their yard was accidentally left unlatched on September 29.  Bentley, a 2 year old German shepherd and BB, a 9 year old pitbull, were spotted by a Good Samaritan who stopped her car to see if she could coax the dogs to her.  Just then, some nutter pulls up in his SUV, gets out and starts waving a gun around, telling the woman he’s going to shoot the shepherd for killing his cat.

The frightened woman tried to talk the guy down, sympathizing with him for his loss while explaining that the dogs aren’t attacking anyone now, that they are trying to get away, to go home.  The man called her a stupid bitch at which point she turned back toward the pitbull, whom she was able to get into her car.  She heard 4 or 5 gunshots and saw the SUV speed away.  She called 911, gave a description of the man with the gun and the SUV, then talked with a local resident who had witnessed the shooting.  The witness said she heard the shepherd cry out after the shots and then saw him run away.

Three Ft Worth officers and a Tarrant County sheriff’s deputy responded to the 911 call and interviewed both women.

The deputy returned a few minutes later to tell the women that Fort Worth police would be handling the case because they had jurisdiction, she said.

“He said the officers has made contact with the man. He works for Fort Worth PD … He said the dog killed his cat and he did nothing wrong,” the woman said. “I said, ‘He fired shots, sir. This is the city limits. He was not on his property.’ ”

The Good Sam waited until 9pm to hear from the Ft Worth police department but they never called.  So she called 911 again to follow up and was told the officers had never filed a report.

“I said, ‘Sir, shots were fired by this man,’ ” the woman said.

She spoke with a supervisor.  A few hours later someone from the Ft Worth PD finally called her regarding the shooting.  Investigators came to her house the next morning and had her pick the shooter out of a photo line-up.

The Good Sam learned that Bentley had been found dead and that AC had picked up his remains.  She kept BB at her home and put up flyers in the neighborhood, advertising him as found.  His owner, who had already been to six pounds looking for his lost pets, saw the flyer and called the woman.  She was happy to reunite BB with his owner but also had to tell the man that Bentley had been killed.

The shooter, deputy chief Kenneth Flynn, has been charged with animal cruelty and placed on desk duty while the police department investigates itself.  Police officials refused to say whether the three responding officers are being investigated for their failure to file a report nor would they identify any of them.  But they’re prolly doing the right thing – they’re the police!

The Good Sam, who had the guts to round up a strange pitbull on the street and get him into her car while a freak with a gun was cussing her out, is too afraid of police retaliation to give her name to the local paper.  Without her perseverance, this crime obviously would have been covered up by dirty cops.  Thank you, Good Sam.  I love that irresponsible public.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Houston Police Officer and Tow Truck Driver Abandon Elderly Dog in Traffic

Guero, as pictued on ABC13.com

Guero, as pictued on ABC13.com

In Houston, the owner of a 14 year old Chihuahua named Guero gave a friend a lift on July 13, taking the pet along for the car ride.  A Houston police officer stopped the vehicle for failing to signal a turn.  And because Houston apparently takes turn signals terrible-awful seriously, the officer decided to search the SUV.  The search turned up prescription medication belonging to the passenger.  But the officer decided to arrest both men. BECAUSE TURN SIGNAL.

The officer called for a tow truck to impound the vehicle but refused to call anyone to pick up Guero.  The owner, Mr. Garcia, pleaded to be allowed to call someone himself but the officer refused.  In Houston, animal control can be reached by calling 311 but the officer refused to make that call nor would he allow the owner to make it.  They were 2 blocks away from AC, at the side of the highway ramp.

Instead, the officer instructed the tow truck driver to leave the dog at the side of the road.  Mr. Garcia begged for Guero’s life, explaining that the pet was nearly blind from cataracts and needed medication.  The officer replied that it wasn’t his problem.

Charges against Mr. Garcia were dropped (apparently not everyone in Houston is on the same page when it comes to zero tolerance for turn signal criminals).  The family put up Lost Pet signs in the area and received a call a few days later from someone advising that a dog matching the description was at the side of the road where the officer had ordered he be abandoned.  The caller was unable to help the dog due to the heavy traffic.  The family went to the area and found their pet dead, having been hit by a car.  They wrapped Guero in a towel, took him home and buried him.

Mrs. Garcia filed a complaint with the Houston police department.  Receiving no response, she addressed the city council on July 22.  There she received a public apology from the mayor.  The police department will investigate itself in the matter, which may take 6 months.

In the meantime, I suggest the unnamed Houston police officer whose reckless disregard for the life of a member of the Garcia family and the tow truck driver who was just following orders when he abandoned the helpless pet at the side of the road ask themselves some serious questions.  Starting with What The Fucking Hell?  The tow truck company isn’t responding to the media, instead hiding behind the police department’s skirts.  And the police department is busy looking for turn signal violators apparently.

Here’s my question:  How does Houston deal with asshats who leave blind dogs in traffic?  If the police officer and tow truck driver aren’t dealt with in exactly the same manner in this case, I call shenanigans on the city of Houston.

Mrs. Garcia says her family has been torn apart by the death of Guero, who had been part of their family his entire life.  In an interview with the local ABC affiliate, she tearfully said:

I felt so much pain, like I never knew I had.

We get it Mrs. Garcia.  Pets are family.  Good on you for refusing to give up in trying to get justice for Guero.

(Thanks Lisa and Davyd.)

Baltimore Police Officer Slashes Dog’s Throat

Nala and her owner, as depicted on the CBS website.

Nala and her owner, as depicted on the website of the CBS affiliate in Baltimore.

Baltimore has problems with regard to the value placed on the lives of pets.  And that attitude extends beyond the public employees at the pound to the city police department.

On Saturday, owner Sarah Gossard let her 7 year old dog Nala outside, not realizing a gate had been left open in the yard.  Nala was wearing her ID tag when she got lost and a Good Sam tried to read the contact information on the tag but Nala was scared and nipped the woman.  Police were called to capture Nala and officers used a chokepole on her:

Robbe Reddinger, a Brewers Hill resident, said he awoke to commotion and saw officers outside his window chasing the dog around an empty lot at Grundy and Dillon streets. Eventually officers cornered the dog in an area out of Reddinger’s view.

After the dog had been cornered, Reddinger said, “I heard it yelp a few times. It was kind of a weird yelp, and then I didn’t hear anything after that. Then they dragged it. There was one cop who drug it out of the corner to where I could see it again.”

He said police dragged the dog with the control pole into the open, then shook the noose loose from around the dog’s neck. An officer stood over Nala for about a minute before walking away, Reddinger said.

Other witnesses who were closer to the scene reportedly heard Officer Jeffrey Bolger, an EMS responder, say, “I’m going to [expletive] gut this thing,” before he slit Nala’s throat with a knife.  Nala bled to death in the vacant lot.

Gossard said she doesn’t understand why police didn’t just call her to the scene. She said her phone number was included on Nala’s tags. Her dog had not bitten anyone before, she said, and was just scared.

“These people are supposed to be taking care of our community,” Gossard said, “and I’m so horrified by what they did and it’s completely unnecessary.”

The gruesome killing was not immediately reported and internal affairs investigators didn’t find out about it until Monday.  Investigators have found no evidence that Nala behaved aggressively toward Officer Bolger.  Bolger was arrested on Wednesday, charged with felony animal cruelty and malfeasance in office. He was released on his own recognizance. Because yeah, obviously. Guy’s not a threat and doesn’t have any screws loose so hey-ho, let’s give him his knives and everything will prolly be fine.

Officer Bolger has been suspended from the police force without pay.  Nala’s owner is planning to take legal action.

The police department is shocked, shocked I tell you, that they can’t think up any excuse for this killing because there were too many witnesses such violence occurred on their watch.  In a culture of apathy regarding the lives of pets where needless killing is the norm, unnecessary violence is going to happen.  It’s happening right now in the Baltimore pound where beloved pets, owned and unowned, are being killed by public employees under the guise of “euthanasia”.  This is what a culture of violence against pets looks like Baltimore.  Change it.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

 

Detroit Police Shoot 3 Dogs, ACOs Drag Their Bodies Down the Street

A Detroit ACO chokepoles a dog, possibly dead, across a street.  Screengrab from mlive.com.

A Detroit ACO chokepoles a dog, possibly dead, across a street. Screengrab from mlive.com.

Detroit police in riot gear entered a home in a drug raid last week, shooting 3 dogs who were inside the home.  The police called animal control to pick up the dogs.  Detroit ACOs used chokepoles to drag the dogs, who appeared limp and bloody, across the street in front of neighborhood children.  One dog’s entrails were reportedly falling out.  ACOs then heaved the dogs, who were possibly dead, onto the truck which contained live dogs.

These are your public servants, paid by your taxes to protect your community’s pets and promote the human-animal bond.  I guess we’re not giving them enough cupcakes.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

Danville ACO and Police Officer Strangle Dog to Death

Chokepoles are one of the most misused tools in our broken animal shelter system, thus my chosen moniker for the things.  While they have the potential to be used safely in rare instances when a regular leash won’t work, too many ACOs seem to use them instead of leashes and sometimes, as torture devices.  Because of the widespread misuse of chokepoles, I am generally opposed to their use, especially by anyone not trained in how and when to use them humanely and safely.

Broody, as pictured on the WSET website.

Broody, as pictured on the WSET website.

On May 5, 2014, the Danville police department in VA says it responded to a report of a loose dog who had nipped at a person’s pants leg.  The officer cornered the border collie mix and called AC for assistance.  When the ACO arrived, she used a chokepole on the dog, who had been barking.  It sounds like the cornered dog became frightened at having a metal noose tightened around his neck and began biting at the chokepole.

Rather than defusing the situation at hand – dog freaking out on a chokepole – the police officer then put a second chokepole on the dog.  The pair chokepoled “the struggling dog up the ramp and into the cage on the truck” where he collapsed and died while still ensnared in both nooses.  A veterinarian performed a necropsy and determined the dog “died of strangulation due to the combination of the pressure of the catchpoles and the confined space of the cage that restricted the air flow in the dog’s trachea and the blood flow to the dog’s brain.”

The dog was named Broody.  He was 7 years old, in good health and loved by owners Beth and Edward Warren.  The owners are heartbroken:

“I just didn’t know why he had to go like that,” said Edward Warren.

The Danville police department stands by its use of chokepoles and intends to continue using them.  Because tasers might kill loose dogs.  And those are the only two tools in the toolkit.

Danville Police apologize but say they did everything that they’re trained to do.

See, that’s your problem right there.

And I hate to have to resort to the A word but where is the accountability?  Public servants paid by taxpayers strangled a family’s pet to death.  Because he was loose and barking.  Any charges forthcoming?  Suspensions?  Reprimands?  Sort of stern glances?

The Danville Area Humane Society is going to give the police department some tips on basic chokepole use.  Yay for a day late and a dollar short.  How about training them how to catch scared dogs without use of a chokepole (or taser)?  Because that is an actual thing, too.

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this story.)

 

SC Deputy’s Dashcam Records Dog Killing

The CBS affiliate in Augusta has posted dashcam video from an Aiken County deputy’s vehicle recorded in December 2013.  The dashcam recorded images and audio from the deputy’s response to a report of a loose, vicious dog.  I haven’t watched the video due to the violent nature of the subject matter apparently depicted.  But the transcription of the exchange between Deputy Miller and the unidentified Aiken Co ACO he requested assistance from is chilling.

The dog had been “corralled” by the deputy’s vehicle when the ACO arrived on scene and prepared to catch the dog with a chokepole:

“How you want to go about this?” the deputy says to the animal control officer. “Who’s doing the shooting? Me or you?”
[…]
Miller continued making comments about shooting the dog.

“I’m fixing to shoot that dog. I just want you to know that. I don’t play around with dogs,” he says to the animal control officer.

“If he attacks me, go ahead,” responds animal control.

“Oh, I’m going to light him up, Bo,” Miller says back.

“Just let me know before you start firing,” the animal control officer says.

“I won’t hit you,” says Miller.
[…]
Moments later, the dog’s owner comes out of her nearby home. She later told News 12 she wanted to get control of her dog.

“Go inside, ma’am!” says the deputy to the dog-owner. “I don’t need you in the background as I start shooting.”

The dashcam is apparently pointed away from the action and the deputy wrote in his report that the dog charged both his car and the ACO.  The exchange appears to indicate that the deputy’s intention was to shoot the dog – er, light him up – from the outset.  It’s unclear whether the ACO made any meaningful attempt to capture the dog with the pole.

Neighbor Malia Busbee told the station she’s still sick over the killing:

“It’s a sad situation,” she says. “I loved that dog, and I’m an animal lover. I can’t help it. My mother was, and I am too. And I loved her.”

Captain Eric Abdullah with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office said the killing was justified. Deputy Miller has not been reprimanded.

Too many police officers seem to lack the tools needed to handle dangerous dog situations in a non-violent manner.  Even when they receive assistance from trained ACOs, police sometimes seem to rely on a “shoot first” policy in response to dogs.  If there is any investigation into the killing, it’s the police department investigating itself.  In this case, the captain issued the all-clear without any investigation.  The police are failing to police themselves in far too many cases where their four legged victims pay the ultimate price.  How many more pets must be shot to death by police before meaningful change is demanded by taxpayers?

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

Updates on Pet Killings in Merced County, CA

Remember in June when Merced Co Animal Control raided the place where they had been sending thousands of kittens – Last Hope Cat Kingdom – including the day of the raid?  An astounding 200 kittens were killed on site.  After the violence was over, Kristi Caseri, Merced Co AC supervisor, commented on Facebook in response to a post about the raid:

“We are the champions my friends! And well (sic) keep on fighting till we win! Some day the idiots will all be dealt with.”

The comment was later deleted but not before Last Hope Cat Kingdom owner Renate Schmitz saw it:

 “I was shocked that they celebrate something like this and say they are the champions,” Schmitz said. “It came to my attention and I showed it right away to [pound manager Rick] Blackwell and I said, ‘This is what you people do here.’”

Blackwell said no disciplinary action was taken against Caseri because the post was on a private Facebook page and did not divulge information about the case.

No charges have been brought against Renate Schmitz or anyone at Last Hope Cat Kingdom.  A public hearing regarding the sanctuary’s permit will be held in approximately 2 months.

And at the Merced police department, where they were taking injured pets to the shooting range to be shot to death by police officers, the supposed new policy for handling injured pets is a giant question mark.

Since then, the department and city have not released any information regarding the new policy, details about how it will work or what steps they are taking in the process.
[…]
Calls placed to Police Chief Norm Andrade, Merced City Manager John Bramble and Lt. Bimley West were not returned Friday.

The new policy, which involves hands-on consultation with a veterinarian, doesn’t seem to have been implemented yet. But the department was forced to come up with something due to public outcry after the local paper exposed the practice of driving injured pets to a shooting range to face killing by officers untrained in animal euthanasia:

“What we’ve done already is decide the police won’t do that anymore,” [Merced mayor Stan] Thurston said. “The thing is, the police officers do not want to put a bleeding injured dog in the back of their car.”

I take it he means they don’t want to put a bleeding injured dog in their car in order to drive the animal to a vet. Because we know they’ve been putting bleeding injured dogs in their cars for the last 25 years when it meant they got to blast them with a shotgun at the firing range. Oh but nobody WANTS to kill animals so what am I saying?

(Thank you Clarice for the links.)

Protecting and Serving and Shooting Dogs in Their Own Yards

Two more sad stories about police entering private property and shooting the dogs who live there.

In El Monte, California, police entered a family’s yard through a locked gate which contained a “Beware of Dog” sign.  Two dogs approached and one of the officers went back outside the gate and re-locked it.  The officer still inside the yard shot one of the dogs.  The 2 year old dog suffered for an hour until AC arrived and brought the injured dog to a vet.  The vet told the family the cost to save the dog would be $8000 and since the family was unable to pay, the dog was euthanized.  There is video of the incident at the link. 

The family says they had requested police call ahead of their arrival so the two dogs could be secured.  Officers blamed the family for not having a “Beware of Dog” sign on the gate.  The sign is clearly visible in the video.  The El Monte police department has hired a PR firm to handle all inquiries about the shooting so they don’t have to answer any questions about what their officers did to this family.  I wonder if the PR firm’s bill is more than $8000.  (Thanks Clarice for the link.)

***

In Texas, police were mistakenly serving a warrant at the home of a dog trainer when two dogs approached the officer.  He fired three shots, hitting one of the dogs in the neck and missing the six year old child who was playing nearby.  The warrant was for some guy the dog trainer never heard of in another town (oops) whose car registration had expired.  A local animal group is collecting donations to pay for the wounded dog’s vet bills.  (Thanks Chris for the link.)

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