Saturday, February 15, 2014

Filer, Idaho Officer Tarek Hassani is Now an Infamous Celebrity Around the World, for Shooting a Service Dog

The police shooting of Filer, Idaho resident Rick Clubb’s dog that was running at large last Saturday stunned people locally and across the nation — including officers in nearby Twin Falls. The Idaho Statesman reported that Filer Police Officer Tarek Hassani was placed Tuesday on administrative leave following Saturday’s shooting death of a resident’s dog, said city Mayor Rick Dunn.
The city’s move follows local and national outcry stemming from a video recording of the black Labrador’s demise, including many calls from Magic Valley residents for his job. “We want (Hassani) fired,” said Rick Clubb, Hooch’s owner. “He had other options. He didn’t have to kill my dog.” After the Times-News posted the police department’s video of the shooting — from Hassani’s dashboard-mounted camera — on Magicvalley.com on Monday, calls began to flood City Hall, city officials said.
A Facebook group called Officer Hassani Get Out Of Filer Idaho was just formed on Feb 10 and already has 9,630 likes as of 8:23 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. An anti-Hassani rally, yesterday, drew 350 people in the freezing rain. This issue has struck the heart and souls of many families.


An observer of the video, a dog owner an enthusiast, said to me that the officer's body language showed fear. She said that the officer used aggression first (when he kicked at the dog). The animals were clearly backing up and keeping their distance (a small one). And he had his gun out as he was approaching the animals. My friend elaborated that the dogs approached his car while he was in it ... He says "get," and one of the dogs whimpers. Then the cop has his gun drawn when he crosses the screen after getting out of the car. Even though the 5-member Filer police department does not have an animal control unit, it appears to me that the police and the officer had, at least, a few other options.

Since this was simply a call about loose dogs barking: 1) They could have done a reverse search for the tenants' phone number and asked them to come get their dogs. 2) The cop could have gotten back in the car. 3) He could have used pepper spray.

Hassani's critics have made frequent mention about the fact that the dog's tail was wagging. Is this a sign that a dog is not aggressive? Finally, this was not an emergency call, simply a call from a neighbor about dogs being out and barking. Here is another version of the video from KTVB. Please watch and decide for yourself whether this use of lethal force was justified.
Many are asking how this tragic event could have happened. Was officer Tarek Hassani trained in animal control before he encountered the barking black Labrador named “Hooch” outside a 9-year-old boy’s birthday party?
Maybe not, said Rory Olsen, deputy division administrator for Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training. Apparently, Idaho’s police academy teaches only the basics. “We don’t do any training whatsoever on animals. None,” he said. “That training is left up to individual police departments. “There are too many scenarios that could play out” with animals, Olsen said, recalling his own encounters with moose, deer, opossum and dogs while in law enforcement in Pocatello.
The Filer Police Department has no dedicated animal-control officer, said Chief Timothy Reeves. However, he said, Filer officers do receive training in animal control. He declined to say what kind of training or from whom. Elsewhere in Twin Falls County, Twin Falls Police Capt. Matt Hicks said his department’s policy addresses animal control. Officers are instructed to have a backup plan when encountering animals, especially dogs, so that the use of deadly force can be avoided.
“While this shooting is under investigation, we are asking our own officers to review our procedures and to reflect on how we would react” in Hassani’s shoes, he said. According to the Magic Valley Times, while the city of Filer struggles with the aftermath of the dog’s shooting, it has turned the matter over to its insurance company, Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP). ICRMP clients are public entities from the county level down, including cities, fire districts and public libraries, that form an insurance pool. Clients are insured by ICRMP and receive legal representation as part of their liability suits, said ICRMP spokesman Carl Ericson.
The city also chose an independent party to investigate the shooting, but “the agency that will be conducting the investigation has asked that its identity not be disclosed at this time,” City Attorney Fritz Wonderlich said Wednesday.
Do you agree with the protesters? Where do we go from here?

No comments: