SLC Police Chief addresses dog shooting incident

Posted at 1:57 PM, Jun 27, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - Hundreds of people are expected to rally outside the Salt Lake City Police Department, angry that an officer shot and killed a neighbor's dog.

Nine days after the incident, police chief Chris Burbank addressed the community for the first time.

Burbank identified the officer during a press conference Friday. He expressed remorse for the incident but also said he's disappointed by the public response which has included hate mail and even death threats towards officers. Some felt Burbank's press conference hurt the situation more than it helped.

Brett Olsen is the officer who's under investigation.

"This is a seasoned officer with tremendous experience," Burbank said

The chief added that Olsen was one of the heroes who took down suspect Sulejman Talovic in the Trolley Square mall shooting in February 2007.

But now, Olsen is under scrutiny for shooting and killing "Geist" the dog June 18th while Olsen was searching a Sugarhouse backyard for a missing toddler.

"This is an unfortunate circumstance," Burbank said, saying the shooting wasn't intentional.

Officer Olsen, who wasn't wearing a body camera, told investigators he had no choice. He claims Geist attacked him.

"Evidence shows the dog was extremely close, in fact within feet of the officer," Burbank said

The chief says Salt Lake cops are being verbally abused on the street over the incident, plus death threats and on Friday the chief appeared downright angry
by the public's response.

"After 23 years in law enforcement I haven't seen this type of public outcry when certain human beings have lost their lives," Burbank said.

"It makes them seem very detached and non-sympathetic to people who are deeply moved by this situation," said Sean Kendall, the dog's owner

The group "Justice for Geist," who considers pets like family, prepared Friday for a rally Saturday morning. They believe the officer could have used non-lethal force and shouldn't have been in Kendall's backyard in the first place.
The group also feels Friday's press conference added gasoline to the fire.

"He waited that long to make a statement and then he came out and acted like it was a waste of his time," said Wendy Park

"This happened to Sean's dog Geist but it could've happened to anybody's dog and I think that's the ground moment that's woken up here," said Ryan Peltekian

The Justice for Geist group doesn't believe Saturday's rally will turn violent and police agree, confident that cooler heads will prevail.

Officer Olsen remains on duty as two investigations are underway.

Both internal affairs and an independent civilian review board are looking into the case and expect to wrap up the investigation in a month, which Chief Burbank says is typical to give the officer due process.

Video: SLCPD news conference regarding dog shooting:

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