Dog reportedly hit by officer
by Jon Mendelson
Oct 11, 2012 | 6222 views | 60 60 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A man who said he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of threatening a Tracy police officer who reportedly killed a neighbor’s dog with his cruiser Sunday, Oct. 7, said the officer abused his power by pepper-spraying and arresting him without cause.

Tracy Police Department Chief Gary Hampton confirmed Wednesday, Oct. 10, that an officer ran over and killed a Chihuahua on the 400 block of Kavanagh Avenue on Sunday at about 9:45 a.m.

According to Capt. James Watney, who also spoke about the incident Wednesday, the unleashed dog ran “straight out into the street,” and into the path of the officer’s cruiser.

The officer only stopped after becoming aware the dog was hit, Watney said.

Hampton declined to identify the officer but confirmed there is an internal review by the department regarding the dog being killed. He also said the arrest will be reviewed, though he had not received a formal citizen complaint as of Thursday evening.

If the review leads to a formal investigation, however, Hampton said state law would not permit him to discuss it.

Michael Garcia, 29, said he witnessed the incident while working on his dirt bike in the front yard of his Kavanagh Avenue home.

Garcia said the officer didn’t appear that he was going to stop after hitting the dog, so Garcia said he flagged the officer down.

According to Garcia, the two exchanged words, with Garcia admonishing the officer for hitting the animal.

The officer then drove to where the dog was, Garcia said, as the owner walked over and picked up the dead animal.

At that point, Garcia said he yelled at the owner in Portuguese that it was the officer who had run over the dog.

The officer then drove toward Garcia and asked if he had a problem, according to Garcia.

“I said, ‘Yeah I got a problem. You’re a cop, and you just hit and run a dog, pretty much,’” he said Thursday.

After what Garcia described as an exchange of insults, the officer exited his car and was shaking as he approached him, Garcia said.

“I instantly sat down on my driveway, Indian style, and he reached for his Billy club,” Garcia said.

He then reportedly reacted by standing up and telling the officer that he hadn’t done anything wrong. However, Garcia said the officer then put the club away and told him that he was under arrest.

The officer then allegedly grabbed Garcia’s shirt, Garcia said, to which Garcia said he reacted by jumping away.

That movement was the basis for a resisting arrest charge, Garcia said.

“I’m not resisting anything — tell me my charges,” he said he told the officer.

Garcia was pepper-sprayed during the exchange, according to the Tracy police log. Watney and Hampton each said that Garcia was also charged with threatening the officer.

Luciano Leonardo, a neighbor to Garcia, said Garcia was pepper-sprayed while lying in his driveway.

Hampton was not able to say if Garcia was sprayed while lying on the ground or speak to the specific incident, because he had not received all information regarding the arrest.

In general, however, Hampton said pepper-spraying a person on the ground is not necessarily excessive force. He said that, depending on the circumstance, someone could be in handcuffs and pepper-sprayed within the parameters of acceptable police conduct.

“There’s all kinds of scenarios,” he said, saying he would withhold judgment on Garcia’s case for the time being.

“I just want to make sure I remain objective,” Hampton said.

Garcia said he felt wronged.

“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong, and I still don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” Garcia said Thursday.

“I swear to God he did not threaten (the officer),” Leonardo said.

Garcia said he was held in San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp from Sunday to Wednesday, when he said he entered pleas to the two misdemeanor charges at the court hearing in the Manteca branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court.

But Garcia insisted Thursday he did nothing to warrant being pepper-sprayed and arrested.

He only entered the plea, he said, to get back to his job, and because his lawyer was not present at his court hearing after confusion regarding the time of his appearance.

“If (my attorney) was there, I would have had the whole case dismissed,” Garcia said. “It’s not right, it’s not justice.”

Garcia added that “I never threatened (the officer), I never attacked him, I never lunged toward him, nothing. No way. I’m not stupid.”

He described his ordeal as “like a bad dream.”

Hampton said the internal review of the officer running over the dog is a routine measure “any time we have community members speaking out about (officer conduct).”

Hampton, who said he is a pet owner, called it a “tragedy” that someone’s family pet was killed, and that it was appropriate to find out how it happened.

Garcia said he might take his arrest up with City Hall.

Comments
(60)
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EllieS
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October 17, 2012
Mr. Garcia,

I could see if you overheard the officer yelling 'die chihuahua' and laughing as he accelerated over the little dog, getting this upset. But do you honestly believe he ran over the dog on purpose? Accidents happen. Animals run in front of cars everyday and get killed. It doesn't mean the drivers did anything wrong! I'm confused what your intent was while yelling at the officer and probably being rude while doing it.

You are so victimized in your mind by the officer arresting you for doing 'NOTHING WRONG'. Well the officer probably felt the same way at your actions. He is driving down the road, keeping the streets safe and all of a sudden some guy flags him down and starts yelling at him when the officer thinks he was doing 'NOTHING WRONG'. You, Mr. Garcia, are being a huge hypocrit in this situation! The DA will probably drop your charges because it isn't worth spending tax payers money on stupid stuff like this, but I suggest next time, you think about your approach when you are upset at someone. Yelling and being a jerk certainly isn't going to get a good reaction from someone! Hopefully a lesson learned, but probably not. :(
backinblack
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October 14, 2012
RHCP, Just a little FYI, Germany had a few allies and they were known as The Axis. The main 3 were Germany, Italy, & Japan. It seems a lot of people these days don't realize Italy was on the side of Germany - at least during the first 3 years of the war. After the demise of Mussolini they basically switched sides.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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October 14, 2012
backinblack,

You are absolutely correct. In fact, Italy even had trouble fighting against spears in Ethopia, with tanks, before leaving the Axis. Japan declared war on the Allies and there was Pearl Harbor.

I think debdaves is over the top and you are right, she is jumping to conclusions, here, before having all the facts.
backinblack
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October 14, 2012
Wow, we have reasonable people with common sense opining without judgment nor prejudice about how The First Amendment has certain limitations and how it's a bad idea to confront an officer on the side of a road, and somehow someone decides there's a link to Hitler. Unbelievable.

Using the vast knowledge of WWII I acheived through reading and years of study, I can tell you as fact Hitler was "questioned" plenty. However, as shown before and since WWII appeasement does not work. I suggest researching the lead up to WWII and how the French & British dealt with Hitler and the rearmament of Germany.

You may also want to do a little research about the numerous assasination attempts on Hitler by his fellow Germans. Now I don't know if trying to kill someone qualifies as his leadership or person being "questioned" so I'll leave that up to you to decide.

This is a lesson for the kids, don't complain about being bored or not having certian things. Pick up a book, watch documentaries, do research on the computer about history rather than what some mindless celebrity wore to an awards show, become informed, learn about how someone like Hitler comes to power, knowledge is wonderful.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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October 13, 2012
debdaves,

You don't have tommybahama/fortheunderdog to kick around anymore, but what you are doing is just as bad as what he did to Jan. IMHO.
debbdaves
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October 13, 2012
BIB No one dared question Hitler either.......
RedHotChilliPeppers
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October 13, 2012
Lot of people questioned Hitler. That's why he did not have allies. Wouldn't you question someone with that moustache?
SpikeVFR
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October 15, 2012
Lots of people questioned Hitler, many were killed for just those types of questions. He came to power not by vote per se, but by political machinations.
mommyofthree
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October 13, 2012
Sucks for his arrest.....

First thing is first - KEEP YOUR PETS INSIDE or MAKE SURE THERE IS NO WAY FOR THE ANIMAL TO GET OUT OF THE YARD!!! Second thing - some cops are just douchbags with a power trip.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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October 13, 2012
Maybe the neighbors could facebook/twitter each other when their dogs are loose?

Just a thought. Might help prevent this from happening to one dog, its worth the time spent getting to know your neighbors.

Some people now have Siri on their iphones. I don't yet have one, but lots of people do and they can say hi, connect, and keep in touch that way.

Just a suggestion. Hope it helps.
backinblack
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October 13, 2012
CR, Why not just go down to Tracy PD and beat the hell out of every officer? Please get it over with and quit thumping your chest on this website. You're bad, they're punks, we get it.

As for some of the others posting comments it might be a good idea to wait for the facts before rambling about something you know little about. Oh wait, the citizen involved is using this venue to argue his side so I guess what he says must be so, we'll see.

Common sense 101 includes you are never going to win an argument with a police officer on the side of the road. Understanding The First Amendment and other freedom of speech laws means knowing there are certain limitations whether legal or moral.

Interesting Mike brings up Rodney King as I was recently talking to a friend with Hayward PD SWAT about ole Rodney. We were discussing how the ill-informed, race baiters, and cop haters never bring up the fact two other people were in the car. They complied with the officers commands, King got stomped because he was too stupid to do the same but people like Al Sharpton don't want to talk about it because it doesn't fit thier agenda.

Alex, I'll take common sense and facts for $200

backinblack
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October 13, 2012
Hey Dale, It just dawned on me you may have recently used the Jeopardy thing, if so sorry for stealing your line.
dcose
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October 13, 2012
No worries. I appropriated it from Alex
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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October 13, 2012
Ah comeon BIB whairs th fun in that? Ya mean we really gotta use some common sense sometimes?

We called it pickin yer battles. Thank Willy Nelson said it was knowin when ta hold em, knowin when ta fold em an knowin when ta run.

Yep, arguin with a law enforcement officer when he's out doin his job just ain't th best thang ya can find yerself doin an generally speakin it ain't gonna tarn out well fer ya.

Was laughin over CRs comment about tellin off th cops at his place cus he had video cameras.

Knew a guy once that thought them cameras were gonna protect him an ended up gettin him brought ta jail, prosecuted an sentenced fer resistin arrest.

An th really funny thang is they warn't thair ta arrest him but were lookin fer someone else. He let his mouth run on until he went too fer an then th cops took him down, cuffed him an hauled his dumb butt ta jail. Wonder when we all might be entertained by CR as he exercises his right ta free speech.

So, fer $200, "The property of maintaining proper decorum in the presence of authority." :)
MikeGZ
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October 12, 2012
plus i would love to hear the last time anyone out their has had a cop help them in a positive way like really help you ?????? dont worry ill wait.
victor_jm
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October 13, 2012
I had two officers assist me recently. Actually had an hour conversation with one officer about our neighborhood. My disposition with those in authority is always decorous and respectful. I don't clamor about my right of "free" speech.

You can't talk about freedom without talking about responsibility without talking about love.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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October 13, 2012
Just th other night I looked up an th red an blue bubblegum machine was right behind me.

I pulled over an waited in th truck until th officer came up an then I said ta him, "Good evenin officer is thair some type of trouble?"

He said, "Sir, when I pulled up behind your truck I couldn't help notice that your right rear tire looked low."

I said, "Oh really, mind if I take a look?"

He said, "Certainly but please be careful that you don't accidentally step into the road and get yourself hit by a passing car."

I thanked him fer his consairn, got outa th truck, walked around ta th right rear tire an shore enough, it was low.

Told th officer, "Yep, it's low but thair's enough air in it I thank if I drive it slowly I can make it safely ta a station ta fill it up?"

He said, "Would you like me to follow you up to the station to make sure you get there all right?"

I told him, "No, thanks anyway, I thank I can make it OK an besides, ya probably got better thangs ta do than escort me ta th gas station."

He said, "Ok, just take it slow and have a nice evening."

I said, "Thanks fer stoppin me an lettin me know I had a low tire."

See Mike, they do help more than ya thank.

Been stopped a lot of times fer this an that but never had a problem with th officers though. I larned way back when I was a kid that if yer polite ta them unless ya have really done somethang pretty stupid they treat ya pretty nice. Sorta th way with th average person too, ya treat others nice an they usually treat ya nice in return.

An besides, it's never a good thang ta get a guy that's got a gun an pepper spray ticked off at ya because of th way yer behavin. Thair are other ways, like a phone call ta th watch supervisor or Chief of Police.

RedHotChilliPeppers
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October 13, 2012
Yes. A Tracy officer came by recently when I called about a minor issue just to help answer a question I had. He was very polite, professional, and did not seem rude at all. He followed up and took care of the question in a timely manner. Come to think of it, I did not get his name, but I wonder if it was the same officer. Whoever it was I thank you to for taking the time to help with even such a minor question and help clear it up quickly and expeditiously.
code20
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October 21, 2012
I have: Just had Tracy Police come to my home yesterday to remove an unwanted person. Had Tracy Police help me several times over the 50 something years in Tracy. Had the California Highway Patrol help; even had one give me a ride home after being in Sutter Tracy ER and unable to drive. Ya, there are some bad police officers, but there are a lot more good ones... I have found if you respect them first, they will respect you back.
MikeGZ
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October 12, 2012
i never even left my driveway. plus my first ammendment as an american is freedom of speech. and damn right im gonna speak up on something like this, after all it is my neighbor its what we are suppose to do, look out for eachother. anyway someone said he may not have felt the dog, well maybe i wouldnt know i never hit an animal before so i wouldnt know, but i do know when i hit a tiny road button it rattles the crap out of my car and thats way smaller than a dog. all im sayin is two wrongs dont make a right but i no how deserved to get treated like rodney king over this crap. and i will also state that some police abuse their badge which im sure we can all agree to that. and that is for sure what happend here.i love dogs. plus i live down the street from the only dog park in town. and no dogs dont run around my neighborhood all loose and everywhere at all i dont live in the ghetto all though it is not the best neighborhood in tracy. im not a gangster or a criminal, but what i am is a hard working roadway construction worker and a loving father and i did not desrve that treatment no way and thats the point of this. its unacceptable period.
Marma_duke
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October 13, 2012
Dear Dumm and Dummer:

I am sorry but I just do not buy it. You had no right to butt your nose into your neighbors business. He had no right to let his dog run down the streets. You had no right to expect a cop to sit and listen to your lecture that you did nothing wrong. Maybe the cop did not know it was something running at the car while he is multitasking listening to dispatch and watching out for a dumb dog. Excuse me, I did not mean to insult the dog. Dumb owner.

The owner of a dog that is let to walk the streets does not deserve that dog. If you want to be dummer then you obviously have the right to defend dumb. But you should know that it does not make you sound other than dummer than the person who let his dog get run over. If you had been an another neighbor hit the dog I am sure you would have acted in a more respectable manner.
SpikeVFR
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October 13, 2012
1st Ammendment does not you can get in someone's face or make accusations. It doesn't gaurantee that you can yell. People confuse the 1st ammendment with the right to say what they want, when they want, how they want and that is not true. It simple says that the government can not go after a person simply for the content of what they say, and even that the courts have consistantly held, does have restrictions. When you have a issue with an officer, it is *never* a good idea to hash it out there and then in the street. It is almost assured, you will lose -- as you did here. We have the ability in this country to seek redress of our perceived wrongs thru the courts and that is what they are there for. But it does require people remain civilized, reasonable and rational.
MikeGZ
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October 12, 2012
hi everyone im mike garcia, and first off thanks to everyone for their support and thanks to everyone else as well. the reason for this column in the paper was to be heard on the fact that i was mistreated by a member of the tracy police. in particular a man named officer griffin. anyways everyone made a lot of great points. but on my behalf their is no way i did anything to deserve what happend to me this last sunday "oct.7 2012" at my house in my own yard. some people say i should have approched the situation diffrently, well maybe, but then again thats jus your opinion. i obviously did what i did because i felt it right on my part and yes i was extremly upset by what i witnessed. i watched a cop run over a dog four houses down from my house as i was outside getting my dirtbike ready to go ride at our local ohv park. this officer ran over the dog and never stopped, slowed, or even looked back and still at a consistant speed start passing my house which im two houses away from the corner. so in my opinion i was watching a hit and run being commited by an officer which his job is to patrol and scan the streets. so yes i became very upset but i no how ever threatend this officer
chefjeannie
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October 13, 2012
I learned about this incident last Sunday 10/7/12. My grandchildren witnessed this incident! They should not have seen an officer behaving in such a manner! My youngest grand-daughter, age 6, tells me a cop killed a dog! We try to teach our children that officers are here to help and for our safety. What do you say, when they witness an officer behaving in such a poor manner. Yes, Mike--I would take this further! You were wrongly accused and did not deserve this treatment. When a civilian runs over a dog/person, and leaves the scene it is called hit and run. Are the officers of the law excluded from this law? HMM? I think this officer needs to make a public apology to everyone that witnessed this terrible incident. Just my opinion!
Marma_duke
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October 13, 2012
Children often repeat what they hear. For example, if someone spoke rudely of the officer the children will learn to do the same thing. That happens in the inner city every day. No surprise there, but the sad thing is the children learned from the neighbors that somebody who does not care about their dog's safety let it roam the streets and another generation thinks that is a good thing. The children also learned that it is a good thing to yell at an officer and rant in his face. That is the worst less on to teach a young one. Nobody in their right mind would be allowed to act that way with airport security but one idiot let's his dog run and crap all over the place hand his neighbor is justified for acting like a moron.

Poor children. Please cover your ears in the presence of your stupid neighbors.
debbdaves
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October 12, 2012
What if a civilian had run over the cop's dog and not stopped and driven off?
dcose
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October 12, 2012
What if...

the skies opened, time stopped, Sheen got his old show back, who cares.

When something does happen, address it.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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October 13, 2012
What if a frog had wings? Then he wouldn't bump his rump when he jumped.

Havin run over all sorts of animals out in th country, somethang that happens if ya drive out thair long enough yer gonna hit birds, rats, mice, th occasional coon or skunk, it just sort of happens. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately if ya thank about it frum a carin mental state that don't really wanna end up hurtin or killin anythang without a good reason, ya don't always feel em when ya run over em.

Was follerin a fella once while drivin outa a field one evenin when he nailed a racoon. Thair was no doubt th coon was dead so I continued ta foller him ta th edge of th field, about a half mile away.

When we got thair I said, man, ya really nailed that coon back thair. He said, what coon? We got ta discussin it an he didn't even know he hit it.

Now this coon probably weighted about 20 lbs. I use ta have a chihuahua an soakin wet I doubt if he weighed more than 3 ta 4 pounds an if a guy can hit a coon weighin 20 lbs an not notice it I can see how an officer might have th same type of thang happen ta him.

Could this have happened? Don't know but it is possible.
dcose
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October 12, 2012
Since you personally want to have a word with the officer, would it not be better to confront him at police headquarters ?
ChrisRoberts
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October 12, 2012
I'd like to personally have a word with this officer. He sounds like a real big hero. Stop by my house anytime tough guy.
ChrisRoberts
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October 12, 2012
Course, we got cameras too =)

Why do think every time I have had an exchange of words, Tracy PD sits there and takes it? They won't abuse your rights in front of the cameras!!
Marma_duke
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October 13, 2012
Or perhaps the answer is that the police are not vile disgusting monsters that you believe them to be. I notice you never have anything nice to say about anyone. Maybe they noticed the same pattern.
Germcity
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October 12, 2012
A police officer should be more in tune with what is going on around him, hence the word "patrol". And i am sure that he felt the dog beneath his tires, no matter how small that animal is. And then to just keep driving like nothing happend is an offense to the neighborhood. What if it was his daughter that was hit by the cruiser? Or your daughter? Mr. Garcia did the right thing by standing up to the police, as so many citizens would not do. We do have a freedom of speech people!!!! The officer involved obviously didnt like being called to the mat by witness to the hit and run, hence his prideful drawing of his nightstick (which he put away once witnesses came over with cell phone video camaras. So then he proceeds to assault Mr. Garcia on his front lawn for speaking up! This is a problem!! THe officer could have handled this differently in any number of ways. It is too bad that we must now fear speaking up. This kind of action by the police is why people are fearful in communist nations. This is not an accusation nor a reflection of the Tracy PD, but the poor judgement and action of one officer.
ourgang
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October 12, 2012
You assume that the officer ran over the dog. Perhaps the dog was hit, but not run over. Do you really think an officer would hit a child and keep on going? We do have freedom of speech, but all speech is not protected. Mr. Garcia may be right in what he saw, but that doesn't give him the right to physically, or verbally take on the officer. Even if he was right Mr. Garcia didn't use good judgment in his actions. Sometimes it is better to "Cool It" rather than yell at a policeman, and pull away when he tries to arrest you. Look, it cost him time in jail, and an arrest on his record. Not to bright in the long run.
ourgang
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October 12, 2012
The Police have the guns, the pepper spray, the night stick and the badge. It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, you shouldn't argue with a policeman because you will lose. We don't know all the facts here, but the dog shouldn't have run into the street, and Mr. Garcia shouldn't have gotten into an argument with the policeman. The dog's owner is to blame even if it was accidental. It's sad that the dog was killed, but probably not the fault of the policeman. The big mistake is that Mr. Garcia couldn't control his anger and mouthed off to the policeman. Mr. Garcia would have been much better off by calling 911 and reporting the officer. If the officer didn't stop it may have been that he didn't know that he hit the animal. That is for the Chief to determine, not Mr. Garcia.
bornandraisedintracy
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October 12, 2012
Getting pepper sprayed paid off in Davis....$30,000 each in Davis.
victor_jm
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October 13, 2012
Yes, everyone is a victim and entitled to restitution. This is the state of our ethos and pathos and bathos.
Altamonthills95391
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October 12, 2012
Eh, a dog is considered property in this state. 5000 lbs cruiser, 5 lbs dog, I doubt the officer knew he made a rat patty. I'd like to know what the "EXCHANGE OF WORDS" were. I dont feel sorry for garcia, next time don't pull away, had you followed directions maybe more people would feel sorry for you... Just because you watch Law and Order, doesnt make you an Lawyer.
debbdaves
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October 12, 2012
"I admit I misread the article about who was pepper sprayed, but the officer must have felt it necessary to use for some reason. I'm sure it worked in de-escalating the situation."

SOOOOO, let me get this straight, an officer runs over a dog, then fails to stop, then an innocent by standing, up standing citizen has the courage to do the 'right thing,' run after the cop to ask him why he failed to stop, as in a 'hit and run' which is btw illegal.....

Then the officer shows high handedness by being aggressive to the questioning citizen....

Then he uses force such as pulling out his baton, pepper spraying etc.

What's wrong with this picture?

dcose
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October 12, 2012
What's wrong with this picture?
dcose
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October 12, 2012
Thank you Press for cutting the rest of the comment.

Your faith in the veracity of the reporter's article and your unwillingness to await any report from an internal investigation.

Just observing.
victor_jm
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October 12, 2012
I don't believe the accuracy of the ambiguous details posited by this supposed victim (yes, this assertion is ambiguous).

I am confident this dog habitually ran loose in the neighborhood. The same thing happens in my neighborhood--many Chihuahua owners seem to think their dogs are exempt from laws.
noclue
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October 12, 2012
And who most of these oversized rats are owned by.

Need I say more...
MikeGZ
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October 12, 2012
i dont know where you live but honestly i have never seen this dog roaming and personally they are not on my list of favorites either but it was not my dog. and no clue your obviously a racist and if it was not for that particularly hard workin race then we would probably starve so your name suits you very well.
victor_jm
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October 13, 2012
We wouldn't starve. Please don't be asinine.
noclue
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October 12, 2012
Why do I wish this happened on Chris Roberts street?
ChrisRoberts
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October 12, 2012
I wish you were on my street. =)


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