By William R. Toler
That card was from Det. Joey Cooper, a deputy with the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office.
“Naturally I called the number immediately to find out why an officer had been here,” she wrote on a Facebook page.
Det. Cooper told her he was there to serve a warrant to her husband for failure to appear in court in relation to a ticket he had received while hunting. She also found out something horrifying.
“He then told me he had to tase my dog.”
When she asked why, Brown says Det. Cooper told her that Merlin, the family’s year-old lab/boxer mix, had attacked him. “I asked him if he was okay… I was in complete shock! He said he was fine, not so much as a scratch on him.”
[Note: Merlin was attached to a 10′ lead in the backyard, not roaming freely.]
“He instructed me that the taser did not shock Merlin because only one prong made a connection with him,” she said adding that Det. Cooper told her how to remove the prong. When the call ended, she went to check on her wounded pup. “Merlin wouldn’t let me near him. I could see the prong protruding from his back but but he just cowered and whined,” she said.
After several attempts to coax Merlin over so she could remove the prong, she noticed something strange about his eye. “There was a little blood under the lid of his right eye and the eyeball itself resembled an old rubber party balloon.” After she and a friend removed the prong she noticed his eyeball was ripped open.
Brown said she immediately called Det. Cooper back but got his voicemail. She then called the Sheriff’s Office to report her dog’s injuries. An hour later, she says two deputies showed up to investigate.
“They asked to see Merlin, so I took them inside to him,” she said. “As soon as he saw them, he cowered to the side, wimpered, and started to visibly shake. The deputy took a step towards him and Merlin started to growl. He was responding to the uniform… I informed the deputy that this is not his normal behavior and that he is responding out of fear. A uniform, just like theirs, had seriously injured him…. he was afraid of another round with that uniform!”
She believes the eye injury was caused by either a flashlight or a nightstick.
Brown’s quest for accountability continued.
I tried to file a formal complaint with the Sheriff’s Department and I was shuffled away. I went to the magistrate to press charges for animal cruelty and I was told that I couldn’t because he is a law enforcement officer!!! So, I went to the district attorneys office to lodge a complaint and get an investigation underway. I was directed to the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation).”
She has also taken to the internet for justice starting a website, a Facebook page and a petition. On the Justice for Merlin Facebook page, Brown has been updating those interested in her “roadblocks” with law enforcement and the justice system, as well as Merlin’s recovery.
After multiple calls to District Attorney Scott Thomas, an internal investigation was finally started. On Wednesday, Brown says she was visited by Sheriff Asa Buck and an internal affairs officer.
Following the meeting she posted:
Both the sheriff and internal affairs feel that the investigation revealed that the deputy is without fault. He stated that he was afraid when he and Merlin met in my back yard and that the Deputy is thankful that he grabbed the taser rather than his firearm. I was further informed that the deputy had every legal right to be on the property and had a right to defend himself. They do not believe that the deputy entered my back yard with the intent of harming Merlin and that Merlin’s injuries are an unfortunate situation. After Merlin is done with all of his vet visits, I am to inform the department and they will see about getting the bills paid.
I honestly don’t know how I feel about all this. I’m angry that my dog was hurt. I’m very angry that my dog will never regain full sight in that eye. I’m hurt that my children are affected by this to the point that they tell me they are afraid of cops. I’m angry that the use of tasers on animals is endorsed by our county. The county considers this matter closed.
I’ve never known the sheriff to be anything but honorable. I am so confused and hurt.
Justified? Afraid of a dog that was tied up?
There is not justification for harming an animal if you just get spooked. The deputy, according to Brown, admitted that he didn’t have a scratch on him. So how can this assault be justified?
If it had not been a law enforcement officer, the individual responsible for the injuries to Merlin would be brought up on animal cruelty charges. But because of the incestuous investigation, the perp gets to walk.
The Department shouldn’t have to compensate for the vet bills…the individual who committed the act should be the responsible party. Badges don’t grant extra rights and individuals are responsible for their own actions.
Carteret County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Asa Buck
304 Craven Street
Beaufort, NC 28516
[This post originally appeared at IndieRegister.com]