By Mychel Matthews
FILER, Idaho — Despite a national outcry over Officer Tarek Hassani's use of deadly force on a dog at large, some area residents are coming forward to defend Hassani, saying his actions were justified.
Hassani shot and killed "Hooch," a 7-year-old black Labrador that was running loose in a west Filer neighborhood Saturday evening.
"I completely support Officer Hassani," said Torrey Germann of Shoshone.
He said Hooch belonged to his sister before the dog was given to Rick Clubb in Filer.
"I know the dog well," Germann said. He said he was never personally afraid of the dog, but he worried about Hooch around his young son.
"He was a very territorial dog — and aggressive," Germann said. "As Hooch got older, he got grumpy."
Two years ago, Germann's sister advertised the dog online, and Clubb responded, asking to adopt him.
"We told him Hooch wasn't good with children, but Clubb said he lived alone," Germann said.
Germann's sister adopted Hooch when he was a puppy. He said the dog appeared to have been abused earlier.
"We always had him locked up in the yard the way he should be," said Germann.
Hooch and Clubb's other Lab were down the street from their home Saturday when a neighbor called police to complain about the dogs running loose.
Hassani went to Clubb's home that evening to deliver a dog citation.
What happened next — caught on video by the dashcam in Hassani's cruiser — put Filer on the national map.
The video shows Hassani getting out of his cruiser with his gun drawn as the two dogs circled and barked at him.
Hassani yelled and kicked at Hooch before shooting him.
His supporters say Hooch would still be alive if the dog had been properly kenneled.
Some said Clubb regularly allowed his dogs to run loose; Clubb denied it.
"I don't see why the man had his dogs out roaming around the streets," former Filer resident Lorrinda McFarlin said Thursday. "Hassani has always been nice to me. I've never had a bad interaction with him."
Natalie White said she and her husband, Aaron, used to live across the street from Hassani.
"He's a gentleman," she said. "I've never seen him have any issue with people or animals."
The Whites started a Facebook page in support of Hassani. The page had 226 members at press time.
"I don't agree or disagree with his actions, but he had limited options," White said. "He was the one in the situation, and he has the right to protect himself in whatever way is necessary."
Mayor Rick Dunn said he has received calls from people all over the world since the Times-News posted the video of the shooting on its website. Many of the callers support Hassani's actions but not his attitude, Dunn said.
Only about 10 percent of the calls Dunn received were in support of Hassani, he said.
Another Facebook page, called "Officer Hassani Get of Idaho," has received more than 10,000 "likes" over the past few days.
Several hundred protesters gathered Wednesday in Filer demanding that Hassani be fired.
After the shooting, Hassani can be heard aggressively banging on Clubb's door and yelling profanities at him.
Twin Falls County Sheriff Tom Carter told the Times-News he wouldn't second-guess Hassani's decision to use deadly force against the dog.
"But I do take issue with his behavior afterward," Carter said.
The city of Filer has hired the Nampa Police Department to investigate the shooting, Dunn said.
"I hope they do a thorough investigation," he said. "Hopefully, they will make some recommendations to develop some different protocols down the road."
Copyright 2014 The Times-News
McClatchy-Tribune News Service