The Killing of Shiner Bock: Artist Sues Austin Police In Death Of Dog

shinerweb_13486There is another lawsuit over a family dog shot by police. In Austin, Julian Reyes has sued over the killing of Shiner Bock, his German Shepard. He claims in the lawsuit that police were responding to a burglary call and shot Shiner Bock when the dog challenged them by barking.
An artist, Reyes was preparing for a festival when the police arrived around midnight on April 24th. He was going to present his art at the festival and was working in his storage unit with Shiner Bock keeping him company. In interviews, Reyes says that Shiner started growling at something outside of the storage unit. He said that he told him to stop growling but then saw a flash of light and saw Shiner try to run away. He said the police officer then shot him repeatedly. He was still alive and crying when police threw Reyes to the ground and cuffed him. He says that they would not let him go to his dog and he had to watch Shiner die 50 feet away.

The police department has issued a statement that the officer fired out of fear for his own safety when confronted by a dog that was growling and showing his teeth. Jermaine Kilgore with Austin Police insisted that an officer is not required to use pepper spray in such a circumstance: “If a dog is acting aggressive towards an officer and the officer feels that the dog is going to attack, the officer is not going to pull pepper spray. He’s going to eliminate that threat, the dog. And the only way to do that with the options that we have is with lethal force. So we’re not obligated to pull pepper spray when we have an aggressive dog that appears to be trying to attack us. That’s just not the way we’re trained and that’s just not what the department expects of us.”

Reyes says that the officer did apologize to him. He said that he told the officer “I hear what you’re saying, I hear you apologizing. And I forgive you. So I forgave him that night. And that’s grace. That’s what we can do when bad things happen, we can still have a little grace. I wish the police officers would have a little grace when they operate.” He has however sued the police department for a million dollars. If the scene unfolded as he related, there may be need for such litigation to force changes in the training of officers.

These cases often raise difficult questions on the valuation of the loss. The law still treats dogs as chattel so the high damage awards are not for the value of the dog but the valuation of the pain and suffering of the human.

My problem with the police account is that it is hardly unforeseeable that approaching a home or storage locker late at night will result in such a confrontation. I am not sure why pepper spray is not part of the training as an initial response. As we have seen, it often seems that the escalation to lethal force is far too rapid in such encounters. However, it is difficult to judge such actions without being at the scene and seeing how the animal moved or acted. That is precisely what makes these cases so difficult.

Source: KEYETV

Reyes has created a Facebook testimonial to Shiner Bock.

Kodos: Michael Blott

31 thoughts on “The Killing of Shiner Bock: Artist Sues Austin Police In Death Of Dog”

  1. pete,

    Don’t forget the hypocrisy of if you killed a police dog, even by accident, it’s a serious crime.

  2. I am a letter carrier and I have the option of retreat. I have used this tactic most often. Some dogs are total bat wack and dog spray can be most useful. and most times it effectively stops them, though a danger may still be present, it does facilitate my retreat …..Some dogs are completely and totally bat wack and I have witness them slurp up the pepper spray and continue on…. as if it fueled their aggression. I also have a mailbag that has on occasion been chewed.
    I have no duty to continue on when being attacked by a dog. Removing myself from the danger of the dog is my only goal.
    I know an LEO often is dealing with an unknown and possibly dangerous situation involving human beings. They becoming occupied and distracted by dealing with an aggressive dog while a dangerous human is loose, … I can see having potential fatal consequences for a human. As tragic as it may seem, I do believe there are occasions that shooting a dog is the LEOs best choice.
    … That said, I have read some stories here that I can only conclude, the most vicious animal in some of these situations were the LEOs.
    It is a very tough job. It takes a highly capable individual to be a highly capable LEO. I have utmost respect for highly capable Police Officers. ….. A few of them helped me out recently.
    As a Carrier of 35 years I have seen them in risky situations protecting the public good. They’re a little like referees, when they do a great job people are satisfied, and most don’t notice. I do think that accountability and training can and should be raised, and the bad apples let go.

  3. Just wondering — would a satisfactory psychological evaluation prerequisite for employment violate the ADA?

  4. Retraining is exponentially more difficult than training. Teaching a kid w/ bad baseball habits was horribly difficult. Get a young kid, see the bad habits, and it’s easy to correct them . Retraining a brain is “wicked hard.” However, w/ cops it is evaluating before they’re hired. You can’t teach empathy or compassion.

  5. I don’t buy the police’s justification for shooting dogs that are growling at them therefore they are a deadly force threat.

    First a dog growling, barking loudly and showing its teeth is a POTENTIAL threat not an ACTUAL threat. It does not become an actual threat until it charges the officer.

    The is analoguous to a person. If a person is showting threats, is displaying a fighting stance, and swiping their fists in the air there is no justification to using deadly force against this person, yet this person is using the same type of behavior that a dog is based upon the dog’s physiology and nature.

    Plus, dealing with growling dogs is a common situation and in reality it is rare when you have to shoot with a firearm. I will concede that using pepper spray is not the best tool, it sometimes does not work against dogs.

    I would be curious as to what the backdrop of the dog was when the police shot it. Shooting into an unknown occupied building at night? Pretty darn risky in itself.

  6. Why would the guy not let the owner of the storage locker know he was there if it were late at night? Most of these places have a resident. Why wasnt the dog on a leash in a place like that? Why didnt the police state who they were right off the bat?

    There are always a series of errors that lead to a tradjedy, anyone of which if done slightly different would have prevented it from happening.

  7. These cops are in deep trouble. When I lived in TX, I drank a lot of Shiner Bock, and liked it.

  8. Blouise 1, September 30, 2013 at 11:08 am

    “I don’t think that such cops see people as human.” (SlingTrebuchet)

    That’s it in a nutshell and no amount of retraining is going to fix that guy.

    I see you beat me to it …..

    I don’t have any faith in The Police or “AUTHORITIES” anymore.
    Even local City government is Corrupt.
    Quite obvious the Whole system is a Brainwashing “Psy-Ops” and has been for a very very long time.
    I wonder how long it will be before it is the first thing the cops do when they arrive is Shoot your dog regardless of its size or threat assessment.

  9. The first qualification to be a cop: Dog friendly. Fear of dogs is a disqualifier. Second is to not be a bigot. Same thing, different iteration. The test can be conducted with a guard dog. Have the dog come in and watch for a reaction by the applicant. Have the dog sniff him out. Question the dog. Report the dog’s statement in he application denial. If the dog farts, so be it–Joebob is denied.

  10. “I don’t think that such cops see people as human.” (SlingTrebuchet)

    That’s it in a nutshell and no amount of retraining is going to fix that guy.

  11. The current training in Police academies instil the safety of the officer trumps all else. Unreasonable fear is rarely ever challenged. I can recall one case an officer shot a chihuahua in a cage ( door open ). She tried the fear of safety ploy and when her supervisor did not accept it right away, she resigned with no further consequences. ( presumably with her LEO certificate intact and is working somewhere else now). Body cameras on police should be mandatory.

  12. Mail carriers seem to be able to get through their rounds using pepper spray instead of bullets. Cops are just getting wimpier and wimpier.

  13. They see animals as objects too, which is revealing in terms of the degeneration of society in various locations:

    The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    Same with police departments:

    The mission of NCPAA is to always act in the best interests of animals; to create an environment in the criminal justice community where animal protection laws are fully enforced; to create understanding that when animals are safe from harm, communities are safer; to provide the resources, tools and support to prosecutors and allied professionals in the pursuit of those who harm animals …

    (National District Atty. Assoc.). The left hand needs to know about the right hand.

  14. The overwhelming pattern of news is cops using (at best) questionable force with the subsequent “investigation” determining that the force was justified.

    Since cops cannot/will not police themselves, we have to find alternative ways to control an armed force that appears to violate citizens’ rights on a regular basis.

  15. There are several new books out currently about the “militarization” of the police in our country. This killing of another dog is part of that militarization. Not all but it appears to me that an increasing number of police are more and more enjoying their authorized use of excessive force and use of their guns seems to be more commonly the rule of the day. Read the stories about citizens refusing police entry to their homes without a warrant and the subsequent busting through the door by police who claim “probable cause.” Read the stories of police entering a home and as soon as the family dog gets off the couch and walks toward them with a tail wagging as to greet someone new the dog is shot. I guess the cop who shot Shiner Bock is too lazy to drive to the police department shooting range to practice so he practices on any moving dog, vicious or not………or is the cop just an authoritarian Neanderthal?

  16. “I don’t think that such cops see people as human. They seem to be trained to assume that anyone they come across is a mortal threat. There would be a logic to that, but it involves treating people as objects.”

    SlingTrebuchet,

    A perfect assessment of a large part of the problem.

  17. This is Austin…. So the man might win….. Unfortunately the COA probably will over turn the verdict…..

    If you’ll recall the liberty tree in Austin at the Capitol being poisoned…. I think the man went to prison….

  18. He was still alive and crying when police threw Reyes to the ground and cuffed him. He says that they would not let him go to his dog and he had to watch Shiner die 50 feet away.

    We have the explanation for why they shot the dog.
    Perhaps Reyes reacted badly to them shooting his dog, but how badly does he have to react to get thrown to the ground?
    Is something like shouting “WTF” serious enough, or does Reyes have to physically attack them?
    How long does it take to understand that Reyes is not a burglar and is there lawfully?

    I don’t think that such cops see people as human. They seem to be trained to assume that anyone they come across is a mortal threat. There would be a logic to that, but it involves treating people as objects.

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