Settlement in dog shooting case reached, then rejected

By Pat Reavy, Deseret News

Published: Wed, July 30, 2014, 1:10 p.m. MDT

 Geist, a 110-pound Weinheimer, was shot and killed June 18, 2014, by a Salt Lake police officer. The dog was in its own backyard in Sugar House, where the officer entered to look for a missing 3-year-old boy.

Geist, a 110-pound Weinheimer, was shot and killed June 18, 2014, by a Salt Lake police officer. The dog was in its own backyard in Sugar House, where the officer entered to look for a missing 3-year-old boy.

(Sean Kendall)

SALT LAKE CITY — As an internal Salt Lake police investigation into the fatal shooting of a dog continues, another controversy has erupted over a possible settlement in the case.

On June 18, police were looking for a missing 3-year-old boy in the area of 2500 South and 1500 East.

Detective Brett Olsen, one of the decorated heroes who brought the Trolley Square shooting spree to an end in 2007, happened upon the house of Sean Kendall while going door to door. When no one answered the front door, Olsen went into the fenced backyard, where a confrontation with Geist, a 110-pound Weimaraner, occurred.

Geist was shot and killed by the officer. The incident sparked a massive public outcry over police policies concerning officers entering private property and on how officers are trained to deal with animals. Chief Chris Burbank promised a "thorough and deliberate" review of the case.

Kendall himself has been very vocal about his displeasure with the police department and has said he wants Olsen fired.

On the Justice For Geist Facebook page this week, Kendall posted: "SLCPD has offered a generous settlement as compensation for the loss of Geist. However, there has been no disciplinary action taken against Brett Olson or action regarding policy change and training. I believe this is an attempt to placate me and buy me off. I would rather (have) a public apology and non-lethal policy change than any amount of money."

Kendall reportedly made a second post Tuesday afternoon claiming that a settlement had been reached. That post was later deleted.

On Tuesday, Burbank responded with a prepared statement of his own that he sent out on Twitter.

"As a public agency negotiating in good faith through proper channels, we were disappointed in today’s outcome. Due to Mr. Kendall’s premature Facebook posts and desire to negotiate through the press, the police department has ended our attempts to meet his financial demands. To clarify, this was his request for a settlement, not our offer. We continue to press ahead with our internal process and expect to conclude our investigation this week. The department reserves further comment until that time.”

Later, Kendall made an additional Facebook post saying that he had "been under a great deal of stress" both at work and at home lately. He said the settlement "was for a sum my lawyer and I felt would be an acceptable amount. I shared my thoughts a little (too) prematurely."

He said he was basing his decision to settle on the advice of his lawyer.

"I personally feel that fighting is the right decision but went against my personal feelings because of the recommendations of my lawyer. I apologize for the confusion and understand the lack of confidence."

The internal police investigation is expected to be completed soon, though no exact date had been given.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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1. giantfan
Farmington, UT,
July 30, 2014

So Kendall was going to begrudgingly take the settlement offer because his lawyer told him to? Well sure, his lawyer wants to get his 40% but I don't believe it for one second. He's thoroughly enjoyed his day in the sun with all the media attention he's got. Fame and money go hand in hand.

2. Meckofahess
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 30, 2014

I think the SLPD should be very careful about offering any kind of a settlement. In my opinion Mr.Kendall has not acted in good faith, he has been quite dramatic and bellicose but not very constructive. I can see that there might be some consideration for a small settlement but after all the police officer was acting in self defense (apparently) and just trying to do his job which Mr. Kendall wants removed from the officer. If Officer Olsen were to lose his job, I suggest he sue Kendall.

3. SLC Grandma
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 30, 2014

If it had been our dog that was shot under these circumstances, I'd sure want to ensure that police policies were changed in such non-emergency situations (there were alternatives to the officer's entering a fenced yard through a latched gate that would be very difficult for a three-year-old child to open), more education given to police officers concerning non-lethal methods of dealing with animals (which has been offered by the Humane Society), and otherwise ensuring that other pets are not harmed in similar situations. I don't believe Mr. Kendall was publicity seeking or grandstanding - he lost his great friend and is trying to see that it doesn't happen to others.

4. oddman
, ,
July 30, 2014

I am sorry for the loss of the dog. Doesn't anyone understand that we all have to make decisions, some on short notice, like instantly. The police officer made a decision based on the circumstances at the moment. Is the world so skewed that every thing that happens is some one's fault based on cursory facts and information? Sounds to me like this officer has made plenty of good decisions in a matter of nanoseconds. The world doesn't owe every one who feels they have been wronged a cash sum to settle the matter.

5. environmental idiot
Sanpete, UT,
July 30, 2014

I have dogs, and I love them. But I can't guarantee how they will act when I'm not around. Nobody knows what happened in that backyard except the dog and the officer. I don't believe any rational officer with as many years and this one would discharge his weapon in a city without a reasonable cause. I had some sympathy for both parties in this case, however in watching the actions of Mr. Kendall I'm convinced he is nothing but a media hog and is milking this situation not out of love for the dog, but for the maximum personal and financial gain he can get out of it. The court of public opinion on this is not out and Mr. Kendall is now losing his popularity as his true colors start to show. He might think his dog is worth more than $10G. But I wouldn't give him any more that the fair market value at PetSmart... $200.