By Abigail Curtis,
The former Louisiana officer accused of shooting and killing Arzy, a Maine man’s leashed dog, was indicted Thursday by a Calcasieu Parish Grand Jury on a felony charge of aggravated animal cruelty.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Brian Thierbach, who resigned in May from his position as a police officer in the community of Sulphur, Louisiana, according to Holly Carter of the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office.
A judge has set Thierbach’s bail at $20,000, she said, adding that she did not know if he had turned himself in to authorities yet or if he has retained an attorney. Her office will be prosecuting the criminal case against the former police officer.
Alyson Antoon, the attorney for itinerant Portland musician Brandon Carpenter, said that the grand jury made a quick decision after holding a hearing.
“We’re very pleased. I’ve seen a lot of the evidence in this case, and from what I’ve seen, they definitely made the right decision,” she said. “The evidence was overwhelming.”
Carpenter said that he was handcuffed on the ground when Thierbach shot Arzy, his Labrador-Newfoundland-golden retriever mix, on the morning of April 28. The Maine musician and his friend, Logan Laliberte of Auburn, had hopped off a freight train in Sulphur and had climbed into an empty box truck in the local newspaper’s parking lot to sleep out of the rain when they were found by local police.
Thierbach told Carpenter that Arzy had nipped his foot, but an independent witness to the events told police that the dog had not attacked the officer.
An internal affairs investigation into Thierbach’s actions found that he had violated the Sulphur Police Department’s policies and procedures regarding the use of force, personal conduct and behavior. Police Chief Louis Coats said in a news release issued in May that he was a dog lover and was deeply saddened by the incident, and that Thierbach’s resignation was accepted so the officers and community can heal and move forward.
Carpenter has told the BDN that he plans to stay in Sulphur until justice has been done for Arzy, a dog he described as incredibly friendly and a big teddy bear. So far, his efforts to seek justice have attracted national attention, both in the media and on social networking sites like Facebook. Even actress and animal rights activist Kristen Johnston, who starred on the television show 3rd Rock From The Sun, has called for justice for Arzy on her blog.
A May rally at a park in Sulphur drew more than 100 people who came to support Carpenter and honor the life of his dog.
“[Thierbach] thought I was just a train-hopping punk, and he could shoot my dog and get away with it,” Carpenter said in a telephone interview in April. “You messed with the wrong traveler.”