by Malcolm Macdonald, March 20, 2013
The dog that wouldn’t die and the dog story that won’t quit — that’s what is currently bedeviling the Fort Bragg Police Department. The good news: a long time flophouse/drug house has been cleaned up by the Orsi family of the Fort Bragg Fire Department. The good news/bad news at the same time news: Fort Bragg, California is, in general, such a quiet town that in all of 2012, officers employed by its police department discharged their weapons just once in the line of duty. The one time turned out to be the shooting of a 35-pound terrier-mix dog at or near 501 Walnut Street on the night of December 21ST.
The most salient fact is not in dispute: Fort Bragg police officer Craig Guydan shot a 35-pound dog.
On the first day of March, Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry read to me from a portion of Officer’s Guydan’s official report concerning the incident. By the following Monday the Fort Bragg Police Department denied a request to release Guydan’s full report or the reports of two other officers who arrived on the scene minutes later.
Last bit of good news: The dog, somewhat miraculously, survived the .40 caliber round fired at nearly point blank range from Officer Guydan’s Glock 22 Department-issued handgun.
Guydan is the same Fort Bragg police officer who drew his handgun on a group of youths playing street football 17 days after the dog shooting. At which time Chief Mayberry told concerned parents of the football players that Guydan was a “good officer.”
Officer Guydan’s reason for shooting the 35-pound terrier-mix dog, which he misidentified as a pit bull numerous times in his report: the dog latched its teeth onto Guydan’s boot. Guydan claims he was bitten, though his own report notes that he did not bleed from the alleged bite. An EMT, called to the scene by Guydan, not for the dog, but himself, left muttering, “No merit found.”
And why did this small to medium-sized dog allegedly bite Guydan? According to Guydan’s own report: because the dog growled at him, he kicked the dog in the head, soccer style, with the inside of his boot. All of this took place, from the first appearance of the dog to the shooting, in just a few seconds.
This is not acceptable behavior for a police officer. What is also unacceptable is the Police Department’s continued employment of such an officer and the feeble attempts to pass off the incident as a justified shooting. Chief Mayberry used those very two words when he talked to me on March 1ST.
The dog shooting would be unacceptable if it was the only incident marring Officer Guydan’s career (this is his first year on the force), but there is also the drawn gun on the football playing teens, there is the refusal to wait for backup in both situations, and now numerous other reports of misconduct by Officer Guydan are filtering into the open; reports that are coming from every strata of Fort Bragg citizenry, from long-time business owners to workaday everymen and women. In a small town, people are often reluctant to speak out about police misconduct, but in this case it is apparent that some local citizens are more than ready to tell their tales of how Guydan falsely accused them, lied under oath, and on and on.
The only question left now is whether or not the Chief of Police of Fort Bragg will listen to reason and remove the offending officer from the force.