SALT LAKE CITY — A man whose dog was shot by police last year is being hindered by Utah state law from seeking legal recourse.
Sean Kendall’s dog, a two-year-old Weimaraner named Geist, was shot and killed by Salt Lake City Police Officer Brett Olsen on June 18. Olsen was reportedly looking for a missing boy when he trespassed onto Kendall’s property, alarming his dog. When the dog responded to the intruder, rather than backing away, Officer Olsen fatally shot him.
Kendall intends to file a lawsuit against Salt Lake City and Olsen for killing his unarmed pet, but faces a serious hurdle in the form of a Utah state law that requires him to first post a bond to cover attorney fees and court costs for the officer he intends to sue.
Utah state law 78B-3-104 reads:
(1) A person may not file an action against a law enforcement officer acting within the scope of the officer’s official duties unless the person has posted a bond in an amount determined by the court.
(2) The bond shall cover all estimated costs and attorney fees the officer may be expected to incur in defending the action, in the event the officer prevails.
(3) The prevailing party shall recover from the losing party all costs and attorney fees allowed by the court.
(4) In the event the plaintiff prevails, the official bond of the officer shall be liable for the plaintiff’s costs and attorney fees.
Rocky Anderson, Kendall’s attorney and former Salt Lake City mayor, feels the law contributes to state corruption.
“It severely undermines the rule of law while letting abusive law-enforcement officers off the hook for their violations of the state constitution and other state legal protections,” said Anderson.
Anderson says Kendall does not have enough money to pay for the bond, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in this case, as it would likely drag on for months, accruing huge attorney’s fees.
Kendall previously refused a $10,000 settlement from Salt Lake City, indicating a need for justice.
“It would be like, ‘For $10,000 you can break into my backyard and kill my dog,’ That’s not right,” said Kendall.
A video of Kendall’s interaction with Salt Lake City police shortly after they shot his dog is available below: