Justice for Geist: Utah Dog Murdered by Police

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Trigger Warning: Police murder of a dog/companion animal.

On June 18, 2014, life changed forever in Salt Lake City. What is normally a clean, quiet and safe place to live, settled at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, turned violent and bloody when a police officer from the Salt Lake City Police Department entered the private, fenced backyard of Sean Kendall, in search of a missing child. Rather than finding any clues or the child, the officer shot and killed a beautiful, non-aggressive Weinheimer named Geist.

The shooting has sparked outrage, both locally and internationally. Rallies have been held, petitions have been signed and the public outcry continues to grow.

The next rally is scheduled for July 19th from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol. Supporters are asking for the officer who shot and killed Geist to be held accountable for the inappropriate use of power and for the Salt Lake City Police Department to re-train officers on how to interact with dogs. Firearms should be used as last resort, not the first.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank held a press conference on June 27, 2014 requesting the public to “not disrespect his officers,” while publicly identifying Detective Brett Olsen as the shooter. Detective Olsen was previously hailed as one of the “heros” during a shooting at Trolley Square and is still a member of the SLCPD force.

Burbank spoke of his disappointment with the public’s reaction, to the hate e-mails and phone calls which have been received by the Department, and stated “I absolutely demand that every single one of my officers treat the public with the respect and dignity they deserve. My officers deserve no less.” He also stated that he had not seen such public outrage over the shooting of a human during his tenure as Chief.

Geist’s guardian and best friend, Sean Kendall, stated the reason behind the petitions and rallies is “to bring awareness to the abuse of force against four legged family members and justice for what was done to Geist.”

When asked if he expected Detective Olsen to quit or if he should be fired, Sean responded with “Expect is a hard word to use. I would like to think that Chief Burbank will respond to the people he serves and heed their concerns against Officer Olsen. It seems to me, based off his presser last Thursday, that he believes Officer Olsen acted accordingly by breaking the laws he swore to uphold. If that is truly the way he feels Chief Burbank should be fired as well as Officer Olsen.”

Sean was also asked if he had received any type of apology from Detective Olsen. He stated “Absolutely nothing. Detective Olsen even went so far as to say that he wanted to speak with me, but felt that I would be ‘too irrational.’ I feel that he is hiding behind policy and protocol. I understand that an apology can be viewed as an admittance of guilt so I don’t think I will ever get an apology from Detective Olsen or from Chief Burbank.” He has also not had any type of face to face meeting with Chief Burbank as of July 9, 2014.

Supporters are encouraged to go to the JusticeforGeist.org site where there are additional links and posts that people can send donations and call or write their local and state officials to request REAL justice for Geist.

You can sign the petition for police accountability regarding the shooting at Change.org by following this link.

Supporters can also contribute to a fund hosted at GoFundMe to financially support legislation to prevent future pet murders.

They can also follow the organization on Facebook here.

Photo Credit: JusticeforGeist.org, Sean Kendall