Brandon Carpenter, an itinerant musician from Portland, said Wednesday that a Louisiana police officer shot and killed his dog Monday morning, even though the “incredibly friendly” dog was on a four-foot leash.
“That dog wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Carpenter said of his 90-pound dog in a telephone interview with the BDN. “Everybody loved Arzy. Everybody said, ‘Oh, he’s so friendly. So gentle.’ He was an angel in dog form.”
The 28-year-old musician, who has been on the road for 12 years, had hopped a freight train from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Sulphur, Louisiana, with his friend, 21-year-old Logan Laliberte of Auburn. The duo was on their way to stay with friends in Lake Charles, Louisiana, their backpacks, guitars and the 14-month-old Newfoundland-Labrador-golden retriever mix in tow, when they got off the train in the early morning.
“We were exhausted, and as we were walking, it started to rain,” Carpenter said.
They decided to find a place to sleep a little out of the rain, and clambered into the back of an empty box truck that was parked in the lot of the city newspaper, the Southwest Daily News. About 10 minutes after they got in, Carpenter said, they were woken up by a police officer who drew his gun and ordered them to get out.
“We were extremely compliant. We did everything he asked us to do,” Carpenter said, adding that he tied Arzy to a fence with a short leash when Officer Brian Thierbach of the Sulphur Police Department told him to secure his dog.
Thierbach put the men in handcuffs and ordered them to get on the ground, facing away from the dog. Then the officer, who wanted to get their belongings from the truck, asked if the dog was going to bite or attack him, Carpenter recounted.
“I said no, it’s an incredibly friendly dog. He’s a big teddy bear,” he said.
According to Carpenter, eyewitness Eric Midkiff, an employee of the newspaper, saw the officer pet the dog for a few seconds.
“His tongue was out. His tail was wagging. That’s my dog,” Carpenter said. “Arzy maybe did a little sniff, like do you want to play? Then [the officer] jumped down from the back of the truck and shoots my dog in the head. I watched him convulse his last breath and twitch the life out of him.”
Carpenter said that the officer threw their belongings out of the truck, and then he and Laliberte waited for about half an hour until another police vehicle drove up.
“They put on rubber gloves and pulled out a trash bag,” he said. “They stuffed my magnificent dog into this trash bag. I said, ‘You didn’t have to shoot him.’ The officer smiled at me and said, ‘He nipped at my foot.’ Arzy did nothing like that.”
According to the Southwest Daily News, Midkiff said in an official statement to police that Arzy did not attack the officer.
“He also stated that he saw the dog wagging his tail and acting in a friendly manner, and that it was when the dog bumped against Thierbach that the officer immediately responded by shooting the animal,” the newspaper account stated.
Efforts Wednesday to speak with Midkiff were unsuccessful.
According to the article, newspaper employees had called the police department that morning to report two suspicious-looking men with a dog hanging around the paper’s box trucks. The dog was first thought to be a black Rottweiler mix, according to the account.
An official from the Sulphur Police Department told the BDN Wednesday that the city’s mayor and police chief are currently conducting an investigation into the matter in conjunction with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office and are not releasing any comments.
For Carpenter, who said that he’s had a lot of extraordinary adventures and had a lot of difficult experiences during his years on the road, the death of his dog in this way is not something from which he can easily move on.
“It was completely monstrous, what this man did,” he said. “We’ll be staying here until justice is served to this police officer.”
A Facebook group he started called “Justice for Arzy” was quickly accumulating posts of support on Wednesday afternoon. According to Carpenter, protesters also are planning to picket the Sulphur Police Department on Saturday.
“He thought I was just a train-hopping punk, and he could shoot my dog and get away with it,” Carpenter said. “You messed with the wrong traveler.”