FILER -- The vast majority of residents commenting at a Filer City Council meeting Thursday night said Police Officer Tarek Hassani should be fired.
All but three of the 27 people who voiced their opinions to Mayor Rick Dunn and the council said they no longer feel safe in Filer.
“I don’t want a cop that’s scared of a dog — or anything else — and whose first instinct is to draw a gun,” said Filer resident Annie Blass.
On Feb. 8, Hassani shot and killed “Hooch,” a black Labrador running loose in a west Filer neighborhood. The dash-cam video from Hassani’s cruiser, first posted on Magicvalley.com, sparked a national outcry.
Since the shooting, complaints about Hassani’s behavior have surfaced.
The council met Thursday evening to hear citizens' views and will meet again Tuesday to decide what action to take regarding Hassani.
Clint Blackwood told the council he has had several “run-ins” with Hassani but has never been cited.
“He antagonized and belittled me,” Blackwood said. “He was aggressive and intimidating with his bullying behavior. Hassani has a history of abuse and aggressiveness. Filer residents deserve better.”
Blackwood’s sentiments were echoed often during the hour-long meeting.
“I wish Hassani was sitting here tonight to hear (the complaints),” said Ryan Magnelli, a two-year resident of Filer.
Three people said they support the officer's action.
“I saw the video,” said Lori Leary. “I think it’s the dog owner’s fault.”
Robert Powers, a retired police officer whom Hassani trained, said he was shocked by what some people have said about the officer.
The Filer Police Department offers “no real training in dealing with dogs,” Powers said. “And (officers) have never been issued any (animal control) equipment. It’s hard to blame the officer when they don’t get any training or equipment.”
“I don’t think this is simply a case of a dog being shot,” said Cynthia Black. “This is someone who is out of control, someone who cannot control his actions. He’s a loose cannon.”
“I’m afraid to call the police in case this officer were to respond,” said resident Nancy Kestie.
Rebecca Mills Sojka, a Twin Falls councilwoman, also addressed the Filer council.
“Obviously people have lost faith (in Hassani),” she said. “The citizens are calling for justice. It’s outrageous that an officer sworn to protect the public could shoot this dog.”