Officer Tarek Hassani of the Filer (Idaho) Police Department shot a nine-year old’s service dog as the boy, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was celebrating his birthday Saturday. Then for good measure, Tarek Hassani threatened to arrest the boy’s dad and left him with a citation.
Tarek Hassani was responding to a call of three dogs, one of them a Chihuahua, running loose when he arrived on the scene and shot the boy’s lab, which did not appear to be making any aggressive movements towards Tarek Hassani at the time of the shooting.
Before shooting the dog, he attempted to kick it away from him. The two dogs visible in the video were barking and at least one appeared to be growling, but overall, the dogs did not appear to be doing anything more than greeting a visitor at their home in a largely friendly manner. Their tails can be seen clearly wagging as they approach Tarek Hassani.
After watching the video several times, I can say for certain that I would not have felt uncomfortable in the least by the dogs and especially the black one, which was shot. The dog’s body language does not suggest it poses a threat to Tarek Hassani.
These types of incidents are unfortunate and are becoming more and more common as police continue to shoot the dogs of the very people they claim to serve with little or no repercussions.
While no one would argue against the right of police officers to protect themselves while on duty, and it can’t be understated that the situation would not have occurred if the dogs had not been loose, it is concerning as a member of the public just how quickly this situation escalated to the use of deadly force.
Mail carriers in this country manage to deliver mail to the majority of the country six days a week without shooting a single dog in the process. Yet, only 40 seconds elapsed from the time Tarek Hassani’s dashboard camera started filming to the time he pulled the trigger of his service weapon.
Tarek Hassani can be seen with his weapon drawn just 20 seconds into the video and his gun is seen on the camera before his person is, which suggest he either had his gun drawn prior to getting out of his vehicle or quickly after.
Is it possible he got out of the vehicle intending to end a dog’s life that day? No one can say for sure but Tarek Hassani can be heard on the video moments later explaining he had been bit by at least one dog in the past. It’s also worth noting that one of the dogs appear to be whining while out of the camera’s view at the same time Tarek Hassani was also out of camera view. It’s highly likely had he just remained in his car and turned his siren on, everyone in the neighborhood, including the dogs’ owners, would have looked outside their windows to see what was going on and took control of their dogs.
It’s concerning to see that “pull my gun and start shooting” is a police officer’s first response to a given situation. Tarek Hassani could have explored other options to resolve the situation peacefully before ending the dog’s life but chose not to even consider doing so.
That fact can’t fall solely on Tarek Hassani himself. The leadership of the Filer Police Department must also share in part of that blame for not preparing Tarek Hassani to handle patrol on the streets of Filer, Idaho, a town with a population of just over 2,500 people.
If Tarek Hassani was in fact trained properly, his leadership at the police department of five failed to ensure that training was maintained and enforced. If he was properly trained, everyone who lives there should be concerned that firing a shot within 45 seconds of arriving on a scene is standard police operating procedure in their town.
This incident wasn’t the first time Tarek Hassani has fired his weapon on duty. In August 2007 Tarek Hassani was cleared from any wrong doing in the shooting of a suspect who led the police on a high-speed chase earlier that year.
Once the vehicle was stopped, Hassani approached the car and since he couldn’t see through the car’s tinted windows, greeted the driver with a bullet through his head.