NOTE: Updated with important details, below.
When talking about adding insult to injury, how about getting fined because police shot your dog?
Lyle Simpson is being cited for violating two municipal codes: allowing a dog to run at large and harboring a vicious animal.
Simpson’s pit bull was shot in the jaw by police Officer Joe Farrens, who was checking on a vandalism report at a house.
Police said the pit bull and another dog owned by Simpson ran into the street in an aggressive manner, forcing Farrens to fire his weapon.
No further information is known, so it’s impossible to get any second opinions, or even confirmation that the incident actually happened as the officer described. While there’s currently no obvious reason to cast doubt upon his account, there have been more than enough cases in the past where cops lied about everything from the dog’s level aggression to even its breed (they sure seem to love calling anything short and stocky a “pitbull”) to warrant taking Officer Farrens’s tale with a reasonable grain of salt.
At any rate, it’s telling that the only justification given for shooting the animal in the face was that it “ran into the street” in a manner the officer declared was “aggressive”. If anything, it’s just another argument in favor of equipping all patrols with uniform-mounted cameras.
|Mary Jane the injured pitbull
UPDATE: 09/16/12 9:02 PM ET —
Another report has surfaced with some additional details, including the dog’s name, Mary Jane, and – predictably – accounts from both the owners and eyewitnesses that severely contradict Officer Farrens’s description of the event:
Officer Joe Farrens says he shot the dog when it ran into the street. But Simpson says his son was just feet away from the shooting and says it happened much differently.
So does one woman who witnessed everything from across the street.
Nicole Dicks, an eyewitness, says, "It was almost like he was charging the dog like he was trying to get the dog to respond, because the dog was totally fine, I mean, like I said, he was at the corner of the yard. He shot the dog in the yard."
Unfortunately, Onawa city law states that any animal that’s not tethered, kept behind a fence or locked away indoors is considered “at large”, which means that even provoking and then shooting Mary Jane in her own yard can still count as “self defense”. Meanwhile, Police Chief Gary Addy is (oh so naturally) defending Officer Farrens’s actions because the dogs were “acting very aggressively” and whatnot.
So, a cop deliberately provokes a previously peaceful dog in its own yard so that he can claim to be justified in shooting her in the face and gets his ass covered by the boss, while the owner gets fined for harboring a “vicious” animal. Now that’s what I call justice.
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