A Maine man whose leashed dog was shot and killed last week by a Louisiana police officer said Monday that he is heartened by the support he has received from all over the country.
Brandon Carpenter, 28, said that he still plans to stay in the Sulphur, Louisiana, area until he finds justice for Arzy Kensington, the friendly mixed-breed dog which he called his best friend. So far, a Facebook page called “ Justice for Arzy” has attracted more than 7,500 likes and an online fundraising site set up to help Carpenter get enough money for his living expenses in Louisiana has raised nearly $5,000.
On Saturday, more than 100 people came to a gathering at a Sulphur public park to honor Arzy’s life, according to a local newspaper account.
“It’s just wild. It’s overwhelming. It leaves me speechless,” the itinerant musician from Portland said. “I’ve cried more in the past week than I have in the past 20 years.”
According to a report from the Southwest Daily News, the police officer who reportedly shot Arzy the morning of Monday, April 28, has been placed on administrative leave and the joint investigation into the shooting by the Sulphur Police Department and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is ongoing. Efforts to contact the police department Monday were unsuccessful.
Carpenter told the BDN last week that he and his friend Logan Laliberte of Auburn had sought a quiet place out of the rain after the duo hopped a freight train to Sulphur. They went to sleep in the back of an empty box truck parked in the lot of the Southwest Daily News. But a few minutes after climbing the truck, they were awakened by Officer Brian Thierbach, who drew his gun on them, according to Carpenter. The Mainers tied the dog to a fence on Thierbach’s command, but said that the officer shot the dog in the head after he had put the two men into handcuffs and ordered them to get on the ground.
Arzy’s story has made headlines around the country, engendering support — but also reportedly provoking anger against the officer.
Crystal Flowers, who works for an animal rescue organization in nearby Lake Charles, Louisiana, said Monday that community officials have said on local news that death threats have reportedly been made against Thierbach. The officer said that the dog attacked him and bit him in the boot, but an eyewitness from the newspaper denied that, saying instead that Arzy was wagging his tail and acting in a friendly way.
Flowers said that the Saturday rally in honor of Arzy was calm and peaceful.
“It was amazing. It really was. There was a lot of talk of threats, and people were scared to come up, but we still had close to 200 that showed up,” she said.
She said that Arzy’s body is being held as evidence, but as soon as the investigation is over, Arzy will be returned to Carpenter. A local funeral home has indicated it will cremate the body for free and give Carpenter the remains, she said.
“When we started this, I did not expect to get the support,” Flowers said. “It’s amazing.”
It’s not the first time that Thierbach has been placed on administrative leave, according to documents from his service record that have been posted online. Last April, Thierbach, then a state trooper, was placed on leave pending the results of an investigation that related to allegations that he had engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer while working for the Louisiana State Police. No further information was available, but Thierbach resigned shortly after that.
Carpenter, who now has an attorney, said that he would like to bring charges of aggravated animal cruelty against the officer.
“If I went around shooting dogs for no reason, I’d go to jail for a long time,” he said.