Australian police are investigating an officer who was caught on surveillance footage spraying a dog with pepper spray.
The dog’s owner Justen Storay has filed an official complaint against the Australian Federal Police for the incident. Footage shows the dog chained up when the officer approaches. The cop, who is in plain clothes, begins to bark at the dog, and when the animal starts to charge, he is abruptly stopped by the chain he’s attached to. Still, the officer proceeds to spray the dog as three other officers are seen laughing while one of them films the events on his camera phone.
Now, following the release of the video, the officer has been placed on desk duty pending an investigation, but Storay’s attorney says that he hopes public outrage will pressure the police department to actually suspend him rather than still keep him on the job during the investigation.
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''It has taken the considerable media coverage and public outcry to shame the AFP into acting,'' said Peter Woodhouse, Storay’s attorney. “The people have spoken – they won’t tolerate this type of jack-booted, bully-boy behaviour from their police officers who are, after all, public servants.”
ACT Police Chief Rudi Lammers says that the department’s decision to put the officer in question on desk duty rather than let him go is to show that nobody is assuming he’s guilty of anything until the investigation is complete.
“It doesn't presume guilt, and nor does it presume the conclusions of the investigation, but it was just something we thought was operationally necessary,” said Lammers. “The investigation is being expedited so we're going to do it as quickly as we possibly can and then work through what we're going to do after the findings of that investigation are known. We already have very sound guidelines in place for the way in which our officers should behave. Those guidelines are well-known to all officers in the police force. We'll just see what the end of the investigation brings, whether there is a need to do anything with our practices and procedures we won't really know that until after the investigation.”
The police officer has received much backlash from animal rights groups on social media, and Lammers has since made clear that as police chief, he doesn’t condone animal cruelty of any kind.