The police chief in Sulphur, Louisiana, says his department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting of a Maine man’s dog by one of the department’s officers Monday.
Brandon Carpenter, 28, a traveling musician from Portland, says the police officer shot his dog to death in a newspaper’s parking lot, even though his mixed-breed pooch was tied up and acting friendly.
Carpenter told the Press Herald on Wednesday evening that he and his friend, 21-year-old Logan Laliberte of Auburn, hopped off a freight train in Sulphur early Monday morning. To avoid a rainstorm, they took shelter in the back of an unlocked van in the Southwest Daily News parking lot.
Police were called by newspaper office workers because the two appeared suspicious, and the police officer who arrived was immediately confrontational, Carpenter said.
“He asked us how long we had been here, and I said, ‘Five seconds’. He said that was five seconds too long,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said he and his friend were polite and accommodating to the officer, but were nevertheless handcuffed and arrested on trespassing charges.
The officer, identified as Brian Thierbach by the Southwest Daily News, said the tied-up dog attacked and bit him on his shoe, according to the newspaper.
However a witness, Eric Midkiff, told the newspaper that the dog was “wagging his tail and acting in a friendly manner.” When the dog “bumped against Thierbach” the officer “immediately responded by shooting the animal.”
Midkiff was identified by a Louisiana television station as circulation manager at the newspaper.
Carpenter said that although he was facing away from the dog, which was tied up to a fence in the parking lot, he heard the gunshot and then saw his dog die as he was cuffed and lying face down in the parking lot.
“I saw my dog convulse and shiver and take his last breath,” Carpenter said. “He (the officer) thought he could shoot my dog and get away with it.”
Carpenter said when he asked the officer why he shot his dog, Thierbach “smirked” and told him the dog “nipped my toes.”
Carpenter said the 14-month-old Arzy, a mix of Labrador and golden retriever and other breeds, was always quiet and friendly.
“He could be backed up by a loud Chihuahua,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter, a blues guitarist who says he has lived in many places including Hawaii and Mexico, said he suspects the police officer was aggressive toward them and shot his dog because they were obvious out-of-towners.
The Sulphur Police Department released a statement Wednesday, reported by KPLC-TV in Louisiana.
“I would like to take this opportunity to address the concerns in reference to the incident which occurred during the morning of April 28,” said Sulphur Police Chief Lewis Coats in the statement. “I want to assure you that this incident is being taken seriously and is being investigated thoroughly.”
Carpenter said he will stay in Louisiana as long as it takes to make sure Thierbach is held accountable.
Carpenter said he started a facebook page, www.facebook.com/justiceforarzy, to collect money to help with his living expenses in Louisiana.
He said that although he’s from Maine, he travels a lot and spends several months at a time in one location working a job and performing music before moving somewhere else. He had most recently lived in Georgia and Florida, he said.
“I take life as it comes to me, but I’m not taking what happened to my dog,” Carpenter said.
Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at: