MERRICK COUNTY, NE — A Merrick County Nebraska cop took it upon himself to shoot and kill a dog chained up in its own yard after neighbors called 911 and claimed that the dog had “bitten a child.”
The Merrick County Sheriff’s Office claims that a deputy came to the scene and attempted to “capture the animal for quarantine (to verify vaccination records)…”
When the deputy capture the dog, the dog “attempted to attack” the deputy, at which point the deputy “put down” the dog.
The owner’s account differs significantly. She was never given a chance to defend her dog, Sophie, who was on her tether in her own yard, a fact the the killer, Jim Lindenklaus, never reported.
The little boy had been interacting with her son that same day and there had been no problems with the dog.
According to the cop, the chained up dog was a deadly threat to him because she was growling and had her hackles up so he had no choice but to shoot her twice. Proper protocol was not followed in this case.
The owner was never contacted about the incident. When Lindenklaus arrived on the scene he told the family of the allegedly bitten child to go into their home because he was going to kill the dog.
Family members arrived home from running an errand and found their dog lying in a pool of blood. Lindenklaus “cleaned up” the scene and took the dog’s body and threw it in the trash.
Several protocols were violated here. First and foremost was the violation of the Fourth Amendment. The dog was taken from the family with no warrant and no chance for them to even investigate what had happened. Then the crime scene was tampered with by the same person who trespassed on their property and killed their dog. Naturally they claim that no protocols were violated and that it was a clean shoot.
“I have to explain to my child why I can’t bring the dog home, and I have to explain to my daughter why she can’t sleep with this dog every night that she sleeps with,” said Rachael Dubbs.
According to witnesses the child ran into the dog with his bicycle. The child’s family did not seek medical attention.
The Sheriff’s department says there is no evidence that the boy ran over the dog and his family says that didn’t happen. Lindeklaus’s superior officer Kevin Campbell described the situtation thus:
“The dog’s hair was raised up, the tail was tucked between it’s [sic] legs. it was barking and growling as it kept lunging at the deputy. The deputy tried to turn to walk away a couple of times, and on the third attempt the dog was very close, and he had to discharge his firearm to protect himself and the rest of the public. He did it the second time to make sure the dog did not suffer.”
“How many people would have been up in arms screaming because this dog just killed someone,” Sheriff Campbell added. “If we would have left, potentially that’s exactly what would have happened.”
One local animal control center, the Central Nebraska Humane Society, said they would have been happy to help if they had been called, even though that’s not required by law.
Especially because this dog was adopted from them.
According to Sheriff Campbell, Lindenklaus has received threats on their facebook page, which have since been removed. “They’re saying that they’re willing to do it, are they actually?” Sheriff Campbell questioned.
“Do I have to worry about my family, does he have to worry about his family because now they’re going to be targets too? That’s questions that we in law enforcement think about anyway, but it’s definitely heightened when you have someone publicly saying that.”
He said of the posts being removed, “We screenshotted it, we saved it so State Patrol could have it because we do take that very seriously….It’s sickening to think about.”
The Merrick County Sheriff’s department does not exactly have a stellar reputation. According to the Grand Island Independent, the issue of the $5,891 missing from the Merrick County Sheriff’s Department office since a 2012 audit continues to haunt that county. Lori Sautter, a former employee who was tried for theft and found not guilty, announced in a news conference that she has filed suit against Sheriff Kevin Campbell.
Also in 2012, according to the Grand Island Independent, Merrick County Sheriff Kevin Campbell acknowledged in a settlement released on Friday that he hired his wife part time in August 2011 and was employing her full time by August 2012. Campbell was fined by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission for not filing a disclosure notice with the county clerk. The commission says he also failed to advertise the job as required when it became a full-time position.
A confidential source with inside knowledge of the department alleges that Lindenklaus has a history of criminal acts against the people of Merrick County. He has been reported to the sheriff on past occasions but nothing has been done to stop him.
Dozens of pages on Facebook are dedicated to bringing this abuse to light and changing laws so that law enforcement will have to answer for shooting dogs. An advocate group, Freeze Don’t Shoot has been helping victims of dogs shot by cops for the last year. They provide support and counseling for the victims, set up and run Facebook pages asking for justice, and direct them to professional legal help in a variety of ways. The organization has been fighting valiantly for these dogs. They report that it is very difficult to get the general public to even believe that this happens, much less that it happens so often. The group estimates that a dog is shot by law enforcement once every 56 minutes. Put “justice for” or “justice 4″ into a Facebook search and literally hundreds of such pages pop up. The cops who do the shootings are almost never punished or held accountable in any way.
The group has set up a justice page for Sophie which garnered over three hundred likes within twenty-four hours. The outrage is not limited to the denizens of Merrick County.