Utah Supreme Court rules against man whose dog was killed by cop

By Dee Thompson | Aug 7, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) – The Utah Supreme Court has ruled against a man whose dog was shot and killed by a police officer during a search for a missing toddler.

The court issued its decision July 19 in the case of Sean Kendall’s dog Geist, a Weimaraner who was killed by Officer Brett Olsen in 2014 when the police were searching for a 3-year-old boy that was missing. The dog was in Kendall’s backyard.

A civilian review board cleared Olsen of wrongdoing. Kendall claimed the police were negligent in his civil rights lawsuit against the city and the police officers. 

He claimed his Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The Fourth Amendment states, in part, "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

The missing boy was found at his home, asleep in the basement.

In December 2016, the city offered to settle the case for $10,000 but Kendall rejected the offer. He had asked for $2 million in damages in his case.

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Salt Lake City police didn’t violate the rights of Kendall when they shot his dog. Kendall appealed.

Among the issues addressed by the Utah Supreme Court was standing. Kendall cited Utah code sections requiring him to post a $300 bond in filing suit against police officers unconstitutional. Originally, the district court ruled that Kendall didn’t have to post a $300 bond required in actions against police departments. However, it later reversed that. 

The Supreme Court decision notes that “The problem is that Kendall has not carried his burden on appeal. He has failed to challenge the district court’s standing analysis – an independent basis for the dismissal of the case on summary judgment. And the lack of such a challenge leaves us with no basis for reversal and thus no choice except to affirm.”

The Utah Supreme Court also notes that Kendall didn’t brief his appeal properly.

“We affirm on the basis of Kendall’s failure to carry his burden of persuasion on appeal. And we do so without endorsing the merits of the district court’s standing analysis or its alternative consideration of the merits,” the court wrote.

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