Idaho Officer Investigated in Fatal Shooting of Dog

Filer Officer Tarek Hassani was placed on administrative leave after the shooting death of a dog.


FILER, Idaho -- Filer Police Officer Tarek Hassani was placed Tuesday on administrative leave following Saturday's shooting death of a resident's dog, said city Mayor Rick Dunn.

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The city's move follows local and national outcry stemming from a video recording of a black Labrador's demise, including many calls from Magic Valley residents for his job.

"We want (Hassani) fired," said Rick Clubb, Hooch's owner. "He had other options. He didn't have to kill my dog."

After the Times-News posted the police department's video of the shooting -- from Hassani's dashboard-mounted camera -- on Magicvalley.com on Monday, calls began to flood City Hall, city officials said.

Deputy City Clerk Debbie McMahan said Tuesday she has received about 60 calls from concerned residents. McMahan said she asks callers for their contact information and promises that the mayor will call them back.

"I'm looking forward to talking to him," said Ryan Magnelli, a two-year resident of Filer, who delivered a letter Tuesday demanding Hassani's termination.

Magnelli said he is "disappointed" in the police department and now "embarrassed" to claim Filer as home.

"I don't feel secure with a police officer running around being a cowboy," he said. "Why didn't he just pepper spray the dog?"

Mark Deaton, of Twin Falls, started a Facebook page called "Officer Hassani Get Out Of Filer, Idaho" that garnered more than 3,000 "likes" in less than 24 hours.

Deaton said he plans to hold a rally at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the parking lot of Cedar Lanes in Filer to show support for Clubb and Hooch.

"We are hoping for several hundred people to show up," Deaton said. "There are lots of upset people who want to support Rick. We've had responses from all over the country."

Hassani's home phone number is unlisted, and city officials asked Tuesday in a press release for "patience" as an investigation into the use of force moves forward.

Hassani can be heard in the video apologizing to Clubb, noting that he believed the growling dogs were a threat.

"The last time I got bit I ended up in the ER ...," Hassani told Clubb. "I'm sorry I shot your dog."

Dog calls are complex situations that place police in proximity to a potentially dangerous and unpredictable animal, said George Harding, executive director of the National Animal Care and Control Association.

"We don't know what's going through the officer's head in a situation like this," said Harding.

While the majority of the responses to the shooting have criticized the officer for using deadly force against the dog, some have said his actions were justified.

Resident Betty Mingo, who lives across the street from Filer Middle School, said the small town has a big problem with dogs running at large.

"We have a leash law," Mingo said. "But the dogs are terrible."

Mingo said some students carry sticks to protect themselves from loose dogs.

"Certain places in town do have issues with dogs," Police Chief Tim Reeves said. "But people who call in the complaints are not willing to sign a citation.

"We need people to step up," he continued. "I don't have time to chase every dog down."

Clubb told the Times-News Tuesday that Hooch and his other Lab are usually confined in his backyard, but the two dogs slipped out the front door while guests were coming and going from his son's ninth birthday party.

Police, however, say the dogs had been running loose earlier Saturday and previous attempts to find them proved unsuccessful.

Filer does not have a dedicated animal control officer, Reeves said. All five of the city's full-time officers and six reserve officers respond to dog calls.

Reeves said his officers are trained on how to deal with aggressive dogs, but he refused Tuesday to say what they are trained to do.

The shooting will be investigated, said Mayor Dunn. City Attorney Fritz Wonderlich is working with Twin Falls Police Chief Brian Pike to determine which agency should investigate.

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