By Jonathan Blanks September 17
Note: This is a guest post from Jonathan Blanks, a research associate at the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice and managing editor ofPoliceMisconduct.net. Follow him on Twitter at @blanksslate.
As The Washington Post has documented, few police officers are ever arrested, let alone prosecuted or convicted, after officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. Although there have been several recent high-profile cases in which officers have been charged with crimes for shootings in the line of duty — most recently in Baltimore and Fairfax County, Virginia — the number of officers arrested is likely to remain negligible. Supreme Court precedent and certain aspects of police culture and internal discipline combine to protect officers in use-of-force cases that can preclude criminal investigation and arrest.
All of this supports police officers who are involved in justified shootings. But it also makes it difficult to impossible to convict officers of bad shootings. And because of the protections afforded to public employees in general, and to police officers especially, it often requires a criminal conviction to remove an officer from the job. Consequently, bad cops are notoriously difficult to fire. Consequently, we often see a small percentage of officers account for a huge percentage of many policy agencies’ shootings and brutality complaints.
Three principle Supreme Court decisions have essentially laid out the lethal force standard for police officers in the United States. But in those decisions, the court also inadvertently created a blueprint for officers to duck accountability. In Graham v. Connor (1989), the Supreme Court said that any seizure of an individual — including the use of force — must fall under the “objectively reasonable” standard: Would an average police officer in the same position view the officer’s actions as reasonable given all the information at the officer’s disposal? Put another way, if the circumstances led an officer to reasonably believe the suspect was armed and threatening, the officer would be deemed justified in using lethal force, even if the person turned out to be unarmed.
Graham ties closely to another ruling just a few years before, Tennessee v. Garner (1985). In that case, a police officer fatally shot an unarmed burglar as he was fleeing the scene. The Court said that because the burglar, Edward Garner, posed no direct threat to the officers, nor did they have reason to believe he was a threat to the public, the police were not justified in shooting him simply to prevent escape.
The last case, often overlooked, is Garrity v. New Jersey (1967). It looks at how police agencies investigate their own. Since law enforcement agencies are often responsible for their own personnel oversight, police departments may compel officers to give statements about an incident in order to determine whether or not there was any misconduct. However, under Garrity, any compelled statements that would otherwise incriminate the officer may not be admitted in criminal proceedings, due to the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. As a result, police officers are granted many procedural protections before questioning in shooting incidents. Some of these protections have extended Garrity and been codified in what have become known colloquially as “Law Enforcement Officers’ Bills of Rights” (LEOBR).
LEOBR vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction where they exist, but generally they provide a litany of privileges to officers that aren’t afforded to non-law enforcement suspects. For example, there may be mandatory “cooling off” periods after a shooting, guaranteeing the officer anywhere from 48 hours to 10 days before being initially questioned about his version of events. (Sometimes, officers go longer than that without being questioned.) Indeed, some of the emerging body camera policy proposals, such as one considered in Los Angeles, would give officers the opportunity to review the video evidence before giving a statement, a privilege rarely afforded to citizens who aren’t police officers.
Maryland was the first state to institute LEOBR and held hearings last month in which 15 LEOBR proponents—police union representatives and leadership—testified in support the law. The police unions denied that officers would or have ever used the cooling-off periods to concoct a false story and collude with other officers to cover up misdeeds.
Even in areas where LEOBRs are not present, there is evidence that officers indeed collude with one another to create false narratives about violent encounters with suspects.
University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing reported that he was being dragged by a car he pulled over for a missing tag when he fired his weapon point-blank into the face of Samuel DuBose. His body-worn camera ended up undermining his story. But Tensing’s report — that he felt he was in imminent danger, and thus in line with the Supreme Court standard — was initially corroborated by fellow officers on the scene. The internal policing cultural demand known as the “Blue Wall of Silence” very often puts loyalty over honesty and personal integrity, particularly when it comes to misconduct investigations. Without video, it is unlikely Tensing would have been criminally prosecuted and, very possibly, would still be on the job today.
Likewise, the initial reports in the shooting death of Tamir Rice were unsupported by surveillance video. The footage showed the officer, Timothy Loehmann, jumped out of the patrol car and shoot the 12-year-old almost instantly. The more experienced officer who was driving the car, Frank Garmback, was not cooperative with the county prosecutor’s investigation, according to the 224-page prosecutor’s report.
Of course, not all officers comply with the Blue Wall’s demand for silence. Fairfax County, Virginia officer Adam Torres’s shooting of John Geer in 2013 was not caught on camera. Furthermore, every officer and supervisor on the scene effectively described the incident as a ‘bad shoot,’ despite Torres’s claims that Geer had “brought both his hands down in a quick motion towards his waist.” Torres’s claim is a variant of an oft-repeated explanation for officer-involved shootings that a suspect ‘reached for his waistband.’ Why it took two years to fire and indict Torres has yet to be disclosed by the Fairfax County police and prosecutor, but his indictment shows that the Blue Wall is at least not completely impregnable.
The recent charging of Baltimore police officer Wesley Cagle for shooting a burglar in December 2014 indicates that some prosecutors are becoming more skeptical of police narratives after use-of-force incidents. The facts of the Baltimore shooting are not yet clear. But prosecutor Marilyn Mosby says Cagle shot Michael Johansen in the groin after he made light of being shot for being non-compliant. Johansen survived, and Cagle is facing five criminal counts, including attempted first-degree murder.
Mosby determined that the other two officers’ initial shooting of Johansen was justified, even though he was unarmed. Cagle’s actions were not justifiable because Johansen was on the ground and incapable of being an imminent threat. Again, it is unclear why eight months passed between the incident and Cagle’s indictment.
Sift through The Post’s database of people killed by police officers in 2015, and you’ll begin to notice a pattern: Most of those were armed and pointed or otherwise approached police with a weapon drawn and ready to use. Undoubtedly, the accounts are true in many instances. And it is unfair to suggest that officers usually create a story that would justify an otherwise “bad shoot,” but it is unlikely that they’re all entirely accurate.
But even if every single account is true, the “objectively reasonable” standard provides legal cover for shootings that can be plausibly justified under the law, but may not have been necessary. Given the sheer number of killings recorded (686 to date in 2015), and that more than 15 percent of those killed were unarmed (65) or had a toy weapon (23), non-lethal methods of resolution or de-escalation could have saved at least 88 lives.
Officers have a dangerous job and sometimes have reason to fear for their safety. In 2015, 84 officers have died in the line of duty, according to the Officers Down Memorial Page. Of those, 28 have died by non-accidental gunfire or non-vehicular assault. The police have the right to protect themselves, but they are also expected to assume a certain amount of risk in order to protect the public. As several former officers and trainers wrote on a popular police website, there is no officer safety exception to the Constitution. As such, the mere possibility of danger should not precipitate a “shoot first, ask questions later” police mindset on the streets. And yet it has.
Because we ask police officers to put themselves in harm’s way, they should get some leeway for split-second reactions in situations they perceived to be dangerous. Sometimes those reactions will be wrong, and innocent people will die because of an honest error in judgment that does not necessarily warrant prison time. However, in those circumstances, public safety demands that officers who make those sorts of mistakes even once be removed from the force and from policing. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to say that if you kill an innocent person, we aren’t going to wait to see if you do it a second or third time. The public shouldn’t have to absorb that risk. And of course, officers who display gross negligence or malice should be prosecuted.
Unfortunately, use-of-force jurisprudence allows police officers to use lethal force at the first instant a suspect flinches or moves in any way that could be construed (or recounted) as hostile. The Blue Wall of Silence then encourages police to support their colleagues’ accounts of events, even when they result in the unnecessary death of an innocent. Laws and policies that protect police leave the door open for less-than-forthright accounts of confrontations that more often than not end in the police officer’s favor.
Changing the constitutional standard for use of force would be difficult. The Supreme Court doesn’t generally rewrite its rules on such issues, and it is very unlikely Congress would pass a law to increase police officers’ criminal liability.
Although local officials can’t change what’s legal, they can change what’s permitted as a matter of policy. Mayors, city councils, and other policymakers can instruct police agencies to change their rules guiding use of force to require more emphasis and training for deescalation and peaceful conflict resolution.
Police contracts can be negotiated to make it easier to terminate officers who shoot too quickly, even if those contracts retain the same protections against criminal prosecution. Termination should result for any officers named in lawsuits that municipalities settle or lose in excessive force and wrongful death cases. At minimum, such settlements should trigger administrative reviews of the officers named and those cases should be noted in their personnel files.
The available data indicate that current laws and policies make police-involved shootings too common, leaving many families shattered and the general public less safe. Absent radical legal change at the federal level, police departments and local governments can still take steps to reduce the number of police shootings and remove the officers responsible for unnecessary use of force from their ranks.
Whether or not a shooting is legal is a separate question than whether it was right. We need to change use-of-force policies to reflect that.
Jonathan Blanks is a research associate at the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice and managing editor of PoliceMisconduct.net.
Va. Protesters Demand Changes Following Death of Mentally Ill Woman in Police Custody ________________________________________
by: Linda Poulson Special to the AFRO
Virginia residents recently confronted local leaders over the ruling that the death of a mentally ill Black woman in northern Virginia was an accident.
Protestors on Sept. 14 questioned the accountability of the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office at an Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission panel held at Walt Whitman Middle School in Alexandria, Va.
The residents were inflamed by the ruling that the death while in police custody of 37-year-old Natasha McKenna, who suffered from schizophrenia, was an accident. A video of the incident was released months after her death, showing apparent rough treatment and multiple uses of a tazer device as McKenna was transferred from one cell at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center to another.
“Her death was murder but ruled an accident, as if it never happened,” said one protester. “That is a problem for me, as a Black woman, in this country because Natasha McKenna is me; and to say that her death is an accident is a move that you just learn from, I have a problem with that. When you have a problem with something especially that stems from systems of oppression, I dismantle that s**t.”
The packed audience included protesters from the Black Lives Matter campaign and other residents who believed immediate changes in police procedures were needed.
“I’ve never seen a level of distrust and disrespect for the police, it’s just really troubling,” said a resident. “We’ve come up with a list of recommendations that really make sense and why in the hell didn’t we implement these years ago?” The speaker referred to a list of proposals for improvements in police action, given to the panel in 2004.
“More people of color, you need to include the homeless and their organizations, and all other marginalized people to be included in these commissions and committees,” said another resident. “Otherwise, you’re wasting our time and the taxpayer’s money.”
Another resident raised questions on the procedures police used while handling McKenna. At the time of her death, she was awaiting transportation to Alexandria, Va. where she was wanted for assaulting an officer.
“Why was she tazed four times? Why were her hands and feet bound?” the resident said. “People all over the world, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Africa; have seen this horrific video showing a mentally ill young Black woman treated in such a brutal manner. These same people ask me is the United States really that violent?”
The Washington Post reported that McKenna only weighed 130 pounds at the time of her death. According to McKenna’s family attorney, Harvey J. Volzer, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 12 and struggled with the disease throughout her life. The AFRO attempted to contact Mr. Volzer several times with no response.
One protester stated the video “looked liked a rape and an electrocution at the same time,” as McKenna was naked when guards threw her to the ground. “Where were the women guards?” the protester asked.
Heard on the video, Natasha McKenna’s last words as she was taken from her jail cell were “You promised you wouldn’t kill me.” Several protestors at the rally said the promise was never intended to be kept.
Demonstrators Appear at Hearing After Inmate Death
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Demonstrators appeared at a hearing on police practices to call for reforms, days after Fairfax County prosecutors announced the decision not to charge deputies in an inmate’s death.
Before the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission met Monday night in Alexandria, dozens of people stood outside. Some held signs reading “Justice for Natasha McKenna” and “Film the Police.” The commission is focused on county police, not the sheriff’s department, which manages the jail. Still, several people spoke out at the hearing about the death of McKenna several days after a struggle with deputies.
The commission heard a report from a subcommittee focused on use of force, which is making about 40 recommendations, including asking patrol officers to wear body cameras. The commission is set to meet again Oct. 8.
Demonstrators call for change at public hearing on Fairfax police practices
By Michelle Basch |
Many demonstrators brought their signs into the hearing, held by the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.
WASHINGTON — Mentally ill Fairfax County Jail inmateNatasha McKenna died a few days after jail deputies shocked her repeatedly with a Taser in February.
Last week’s decision to not file criminal charges in connection with her death, as well as to release disturbing video of what led up to it, prompted protesters to show up at a public hearing on Monday night.
Before the meeting started at Walt Whitman Middle School in Alexandria, a few dozen people stood outside holding signs that read “Justice for Natasha McKenna,” “Film the Police” and “Instead of help + treatment, they gave her abuse + death.”
Although the commission is focused on the Fairfax County Police Department and not the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Department, which manages the county jail, numerous people signed up to speak out about McKenna’s death.
“We demand justice for Natasha and for those like her in the detention facility today,” Cayce Utley said.
“This woman was having a psychotic episode. She didn’t know what was happening to her. She had men in white suits groping at her naked body,” said Erika Totten, with Black Lives Matter.
“It was a cruel reminder of how African slaves were treated once upon a time,” said Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture.
Other speakers called for the prosecutor and the deputies involved in the case to be fired.
Well into the hearing, one of the members of the commission, Sal Culosi, stood to speak to the audience.
“You need to know that my son … was killed by (the) Fairfax County Police Department in 2006. They said it was an accident. We’re not going to go into that, but I’m here trying to make the policies better. By and large I agree with everything that’s been said here by all of you with regard to Natasha except for one thing. One thing. This is not a racial issue.”
That led to “boos” from several in the crowd.
Culosi continued, “The officer who killed my son was black. And that has nothing to do with the issue of policy.”
At the same meeting, the commission heard a report from its Use of Force Subcommittee, which is making about 40 recommendations for change. They include asking police patrol officers to wear body cameras and carry Electronic Controlled weapons, such as Tasers, while on duty. The subcommittee also supports a ban on chokeholds as a way of controlling suspects.
The commission is scheduled to meet again on Oct. 8 to vote on recommendations submitted by all five of its subcommittees.
Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.
I wrote back in 2013 that the cops would investigate the cops in this killing and they would find them innocent...and they did. Now their trying this angle....
Cops Kill Man with Down Syndrome Over Movie Ticket, Blame it on Medics Who Tried to Save His Life
By Jay Syrmopoulos on September 2, 2015
The three cops facing a wrongful-death suit in connection with the death of a man with Down syndrome will argue that his death was the result of pre-existing medical conditions, according to filings with the U.S. District Court.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.
Police approach an individual regarding an extremely trivial matter. When the he doesn’t immediately comply with the commands of law enforcement he’s taken to the ground and roughed up by numerous cops. In the course of the altercation, the man dies from asphyxiation.
Although this sounds very similar to the manner in which Eric Garner was killed by NYPD cops after an altercation about selling single cigarettes, this is actually thecase of Ethan Saylor.
Saylor, a 26-year-old with Down syndrome, was at a movie theater with a health care aide watching “Zero Dark Thirty.” The movie had finished, but Ethan didn’t want to leave the theater after the film ended, hoping to watch it again.
The cinema manager, angry that the mentally-handicapped man didn’t quite understand that one ticket is only good for one viewing, called three off-duty-deputies who were moonlighting as security guards. The cops decided to forcibly evict Saylor from the theater, refusing to listen to his aide, who had already contacted Saylor’s mother in an effort to defuse the situation.
Instead, as is all too common the case, the cops got violent, taking Saylor to the ground and piling on top of him as they attempted to handcuff him. In the process, this young man’s trachea was fractured, and he died of asphyxiation.
The autopsy report indicated that Saylor died from asphyxiation, and had sustained a fracture to his larynx, with the coroner listing his cause of death as homicide.
While Saylor’s death was ruled a homicide, an internal “investigation” cleared the three officers, Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris, of any wrongdoing. No charges were brought against any of the officers involved in his death.
Much to the dismay of almost everyone involved in the case, a Frederick County grand jury declined to indict the deputies after their review of the case.
After the failure of the state to hold these officers criminally accountable for Saylor death, as is often the case when law enforcement kills a citizen, the family filed a wrongful-death suit against the deputies.
According to a report in The Frederick News Post:
In the initial complaint, filed in October 2013, Saylor’s family alleged violations of his civil rights and of the Americans with Disabilities Act by the state, county sheriff’s deputies and the companies that employed the men as security guards at the Regal Cinemas Westview Stadium 16 theater.
A year later, a federal judge dismissed all of the claims against the theater company, and also dismissed a simple negligence claim against the deputies and a wrongful-death claim against the state.
Claims that the deputies — Richard Rochford, Scott Jewell and James Harris — were grossly negligent and that the state failed to train them were allowed to go forward.
While the family is certain that the fractured larynx was a result of the violent altercation, defense attorneys for the cops claimed in their latest court filings that the injuries found on Saylor were from the paramedic’s efforts to save his life, and not their brutal attack.
One of the experts identified by the defense was Dr. Jeffrey Fillmore, the emergency department physician who treated Saylor at Frederick Memorial Hospital. According to court filing by the defense, Fillmore would testify that the autopsy and other evidence are not consistent with asphyxia as the cause of Saylor’s death.
On Tuesday, attorney for Saylor’s family, Joseph Espo, told the AP that his expert witnesses disagree with almost everything in the filing by the deputies’ attorneys. Records indicate that those witnesses include a disabilities expert, a police liabilities expert, a pathologist and another medical doctor.
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking aspects of this case is the fact that Saylor was an avid fan of law enforcement and was reportedly fascinated by police. Some may argue that the cops did not intend to kill Ethan, but the fact that they couldn’t de-escalate a simple situation over a movie ticket, and instead resorted to deadly violence speaks to the corrupting sickness that is prevalent in policing today.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has been published on BenSwann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPressNews and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.
Hi! John Faust here...yep, I'm a weasel....but I just to say I sure as heck glad we don't have cops in Fairfax County murdering innocent people........
John Faust: Pretending bad thing don't happen for the past 4 years
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) -- A judge has declined to throw out a lawsuit challenging the Fairfax County Police Department's practice of storing data collected through the use of license-plate readers.
The American Civil Liberties Union claims in the lawsuit that keeping a database of such information amounts to an illegal invasion of privacy.
The ACLU says Fairfax County Circuit Judge Grace Carroll denied the police department's motion to dismiss the lawsuit Friday.
The decision came two days after a state trooper used a license-plate reader to identify the suspect in the slayings of WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker andphotographer Adam Ward. The ACLU says using a plate reader that way in a criminal investigation is proper, but routinely compiling data from law-abiding Virginians and sharing it among police agencies is not.
"Police problem? There's a police problem in Fairfax County?"
He needs another 4 years to hide under desk
Hi! I'm John Faust...and yep, I'm a weasel!
I was now aware that there is a police problem in Fairfax County. I've been hiding under my desk and its really hard to hear things down there.
Anyway, I'm up for reelection to the bored of supervisors where I hope to spend another four years avoiding any issues that involve the cops murdering people, handing out millions in law suits and framing innocent people.
JOHN FAUST....................BECAUSE EVEN A GUTLESS WEASEL NEEDS A JOB
Put body cameras on every cop in America or take away their guns
We have to hire low IQ people as cops. No one with a brain in there head would want the job or would stay on the job after a few months….except those smart people who have daddy issues…anyway, here’s examples of why we either need to body camera these morons take away their guns and arm them with something less lethal.
Cops Break Into Wrong Home, Shoot Innocent Homeowner, Kill His Dog, Then Shoot Each Other
By Matt Agorist
Atlanta, GA — An almost unbelievable tale of police incompetence comes out of Dekalb County Tuesday after police responded to the wrong home on a burglary call.
During the blunder, police officers wrongfully entered a residence as the homeowners, Chris and Leah McKinley and their small child, watched the movieSerendipity on their sofa.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The bizarre incident unfolded shortly after 7:30 p.m. when three officers responded to a report of a suspicious person near Bouldercrest Road, but were not given a street address, DeKalb director of public safety Cedric Alexander said. The officers went to a home in the 1500 block of Boulderwoods Drive that matched the description given by a 911 caller, Dutton said.
“Officers approached the residence and attempted to contact occupants at the residence,” he said. “No contact was made.”
When officers went to the rear of the house, they found an unlocked screen and unlocked door and believed an intruder was inside, according to police. Officers entered the home through the unlocked door that led to the kitchen and announced their presence.
“Upon entry to the residence, the officers encountered a dog,” Dutton said in an email. “Two officers fired their weapons, striking and killing the animal in the kitchen.”
The McKinley’s neighbor, Tama Colson was out walking Monday night when she saw the patrol cars on the street. She then heard the gunshots.
It wasn’t just the dog, who police shot, however. After hearing police shoot his dog in the kitchen, Chris McKinley walked into the room to assess the situation. That’s when he too was shot by the Dekalb County police.
“I hear Leah screaming, I see Chris walking out, ‘They just shot me, they just shot me, and they killed my dog,’” Colson recounted of the incident. “So I got him to lay down, took my shirt off and rendered first aid. And Chris just kept saying, ‘Why did they shoot me? Why did they shoot my dog?’ He says, ‘I opened the door to see what the dogs were barking at, and I see black uniforms and I hear pop-pop-pop-pop,’” Colson continued.
But the epic blunder wasn’t over just yet. After they broke into the wrong home, killed a family pet, and shot the innocent and unarmed homeowner, they also shot their fellow cop!
One of the officers had to be transported in critical condition to the Grady Memorial Hospital after being shot by one of his own officers. That officer was in serious, but stable condition Tuesday morning after receiving a bullet to his hip.
According to DeKalb police Chief James Conroy, the three officers involved are all on paid leave.
“Without getting into the specifics of this case, that’s one of the challenges when people call 911, we often don’t know where they are,” Conroy said. “We want officers to go out and investigate crimes like this rather than react. We want to go out and actually apprehend criminals and help people.”
However, these officers were doing no such investigation, nor were they apprehending criminals.
In an atypical fashion, the department officially admitted to making a mistake.
“Are we perfect? Absolutely not. But when we find that we made a mistake, we own it. We own the fact that we were at the wrong house,” he said. “We didn’t hide it. We didn’t mismanage it. We were at the wrong location based on information that was given to us.”
The part that was left out, however, is that their ‘mistake’ led to police officers shooting an innocent man and killing a family pet.
Cop Shoots and Kills Little Girl’s Pony
An Oregon family is demanding answers after a Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed their pony. The family says they had no idea the officer was going to shoot the family pet, and it all happened without their knowing and for no good reason whatsoever.
Crista Fitzgerald of Clackamas County explained that the 30-year-old American Miniature Horse, named Gir, had no problems aside from being old. But when he escaped from his stall in a Molalla barn overnight on February 18th, an officer shot and killed him.
“I locked his stall door, and I always do a double check. The next morning I came back out before I had class in the morning, which is around 10, and he was gone,” Crista explained.
She said that Gir didn’t get very far from the barn before being shot.
“We started knocking door-to-door. And the first house we came to he was laying in their yard,” she recounted.
At first the family thought that Gir was taking a nap. But as they got closer to him, they saw that he had been shot multiple times.
“We walked up closer and I bent down to pet him, and that’s when I saw the pool of blood behind his cheek bones. The neighbor came out and told us she had called the sheriff’s department and they put him down,” Fitzgerald told local reporters.
“When I called the officer he said that he had gotten out on the highway and gotten hit by a car and broke both of his back legs,” she added.
A spokesman for the Clackamas County Sheriff Office, Sgt. Nathan Thompson told local KATU News that the officer claimed that the horse “had broken legs.”
Sgt. Thompson also lied and claimed that the deputy called the Oregon Humane Society to ask about euthanizing the horse and they told him to just go ahead and shot it. But a spokeswoman for OHS said that this is not true; they never received a call from anyone at the Sheriff’s Department about the horse, and they would not have given them this advice if they had.
Fitzgerald said she didn’t believe the department’s story that Gir had broken legs. She claims that there was no sign of anything wrong with the horse’s legs when she saw her dead family pet.
“My vet said there was absolutely nothing wrong with him,” she added.
The body of the horse was sent to Oregon State University’s veterinary lab for an autopsy. They confirmed that there were no broken bones whatsoever in the horses legs, only in the jaw, which was shattered by one of the bullets from the deputy’s weapon.
“If I had gone out and shot the pony I’d be in jail right now. That’s cruel,” Fitzgerald said.
“He was part of our family… There’s no way to replace him,” she said, saying that her children don’t understand where Gir went, or why a police officer would hurt him.