Police Puppycide in a Tiny Idaho Town

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Killing the dog

Filer is a town in southeast Idaho of roughly 2,500 people. Its crime rate in 2010 was about one-tenth the national average. It is located about eight miles from Twin Falls, the county seat and the home of the county Sheriff’s Office.

No city truly “needs” a police department, and Filer needs one less than most of them — if the objective of having one is to protect persons and property. Nonetheless, five officers prowl the grim and forbidding streets of Filer, among them Corporal Tarek Hassani – who has a history of panicking and shooting people and other living things in circumstances that are, at best, dubious.

Hassani’s most recent exploit occurred on February 9, when he interrupted a child’s ninth birthday party to gun down a dog in Rick Clubb’s front yard.

Rick Clubb

Rick Clubb

The canine victim, a 7-year-old black Labrador named “Hooch,” was a trained service animal for Mr. Clubb, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and is confined to a wheelchair. Hassani had responded to a call about dogs at large. When he arrived on the scene, reeking of the fear that is a police officer’s irrepressible personal bouquet, the dogs responded, barking at the unfamiliar stranger.

As he approached the home, Hassani exacerbated the situation by kicking at Hootch, who retreated onto Clubb’s property. The officer approached the dog with his gun drawn – and then fired a single shot while the animal was crouched several feet away.

“He didn’t have to pull out his .45 and shoot my dog,” Clubb complained to the Twin Falls Times-News. In addition to needlessly destroying Clubb’s treasured and valuable companion, Hassani committed a criminal act that needlessly endangered human lives: “It was right outside my son’s bedroom. What if it had ricocheted through the window?”

After killing Hootch, Hassani – his voice tremulous with barely contained panic – pounded on the door and spit out a series of profanity-laced demands at the wheelchair-bound man, repeatedly threatening to arrest him. He then issued a citation.

“My decision was that he did a good job and he was totally justified in putting the dog down,” insisted Tim Reeves, the fine figure of a man who serves as Filer’s Chief of Police. The officer whose “good” work Reeves extolled recklessly and unnecessarily discharged a weapon just feet away from a house in which children had gathered to celebrate a birthday. Under the Idaho State Code (18-337) that act is a felony for which Hassani could serve a term of up to fifteen years in prison.

Chief Reeves

Chief Reeves

As indicated above, this is not the first time Hassani has fired his gun under highly questionable circumstances. In May 2010, Hassani responded to a report of an actual crime – an incident in which a man was shot in nearby Buhl. He was among several officers who pursued the suspect, a young man named Markcus May, who eventually stopped his car. Hassani approached the vehicle and then shot the suspect in the head, later claiming that he was afraid May would try to run him down.

May survived the shooting. Ada County prosecutors declined to charge Hassani, leaving him at large in Filer to render the kind of indispensable service he performed last Saturday evening.

1:43 am on February 11, 2014