A Salt Lake City police officer searching for a missing 3-year-old boy acted reasonably when he entered a fenced yard and fatally shot a large barking dog running toward him, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

In a 3-0 decision, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that Officer Brett Olsen did not violate the constitutional rights of Sean Kendall by entering his yard on June 18, 2014, without a warrant and shooting Geist the dog.

Salt Lake City police Sgt. Brandon Shearer said Tuesday that the officers were concerned about the missing child and that the ruling shows they “were there doing what they needed to do.” Paul Murphy, a spokesman for Salt Lake City, said the situation was “highly critical.”

“A missing child is a child who is in danger until they are found,” Murphy said. “What happened to Geist was an unfortunate situation, but we believe the court ruled correctly the officer acted in a reasonable manner when he was faced with a dog that was about to attack him.”

Kendall’s attorney, Rocky Anderson, said they intend to appeal the decision, possibly to the entire 10th Circuit, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Kendall sued the city and five of its officers in Utah’s 3rd District Court in October 2015. The lawsuit, which involved state and federal defendants, sought about $2 million for the loss of Geist, a 2-year-old Weimaraner. The lawsuit says that police were not trained to deal with dogs and that Olsen violated Kendall’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure and due process when entering the yard without sufficient cause.

 

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