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Sulphur Police officer charged with animal cruelty in shooting of dog, Arzy

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Breaking news update: As of 1:20pm on 6/7/14, KPLC News just released a news alert that former Sulphur police officer Brian Thierbach has been arrested on the aggravated animal cruelty charge.

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On June 5, 2014, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney's office released news that a grand jury has indicted former Sulphur police officer, Brian L. Thierbach, in the unjust shooting of Arzy, the dog owned by Brandon Carpenter, a visitor to the lake area. The indictment is for a single count of aggravated animal cruelty (a felony) in the shooting and killing of Arzy on April 30, 2014, when Carpenter and a friend were being arrested for trespassing after seeking shelter from the rain inside an open cargo truck in the parking lot of newspaper business. KPLC News in Lake Charles reported that Carpenter's attorney, Alyson Antoon, has confirmed the current indictment of Theirbach and said a warrant was issued for his arrest with bond set at $20,000. Mrs Antoon also posted the following on her Facebook page: "The former officer was indicted today for felony cruelty to an animal. Thank you to the DA's office for being swift, and thank you to the grand jury for making the right decision. I truly believe that everyone is innocent till proven guilty, but the evidence in this matter is overwhelming, and we are so pleased with the indictment. Thanks everyone for all the support in the quest for justice for Arzy!" Mrs. Antoon told Lake Charles Dog Rescue Examiner the success of this indictment relied mostly on "the witness, Eric Midkiff. He was really essential." She also stated that after viewing the officers "dash-cam", it was obvious he shot Arzy for no reason. She states she is hopeful that the "DA's office will prosecute to the fullest extent" and she is "pleased with the ongoing support from the community."

The Sulphur police department immediately began an internal investigation into Thierbach's shooting of Arzy, and the officer resigned while being investigated and before official disciplinary action could be attached to his work record. The investigation found that Thierbach had in fact violated the code of conduct for an officer and the policy on use of force by an officer. The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's office picked up the investigation to determine if formal criminal charges could be brought against Thierbach.

After doing some research Carpenter's attorney and investigators found out that this wasn't Thierbach's first incident of violating his oath to serve and protect as an officer of the law. In April 2013, Thierbach was placed on administrative leave by state police, pending an investigation, saying he "posed a significant hazard to the efficiency of the public service," and that his conduct was "unbecoming of an officer." It's not clear from the documents on what exactly led to the action, but three days after the notice was written, Thierbach resigned from the Louisiana State Police (source, "Justice for Arzy" Facebook page).

This has been very traumatic for Carpenter, who was handcuffed and felt helpless when his trusted companion, Arzy, was gunned down. Carpenter stated to reporters, “I saw my dog convulse and shiver and take his last breath...I saw the blood start to run down his face. I’m watching my dog die while I’m sitting in cuffs… He (the officer) thought he could shoot my dog and get away with it.”

The Southwest Daily News, the business where the shooting occurred, obtained a statement Thursday evening from Arzy's owner who said he was "feeling a little overwhelmed and emotional after hearing about the indictment". Carpenter has repeatedly stated to reporters that he wishes no ill will toward the officer but definitely feels justice should be served for the death of his innocent and loving dog, affectionately named "Arzy Kenzington". Arzy has been Carpenters traveling companion and constant best friend after Carpenter adopted him as a puppy.

Coverage of this story has spread across the state of LA and across the country as animal advocates raise their voices on behalf of officer involved shootings of family pets. The facebook page "Justice for Arzy" has been posting stories about dog shootings by officers to raise awareness and encourage other communities to push for justice for these innocent animals. There is training available for law enforcement officers in how to deal with encountering aggressive dogs in the line of duty, but many agencies have not received this training. The National Canine Research Council has provided a series of videos entitled "Police and Dog Encounters" for training officers of the law in how to appropriately manage these situations so that no officer and no dog gets injured.

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