Arkansas family devastated after investigator goes to the wrong house and shoots child’s dog

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GREENBRIER, Ark. (KARK) — An Arkansas family say they are crushed after an investigator with the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed their child’s dog after winding up at their home by mistake while on a sex offender compliance check last week.

A department spokesperson said the investigator, James Freeman, went to Autumn Hills Road for the compliance check but went to the wrong house Monday afternoon.

According to the sheriff’s Office, Freeman went to 72 Autumn Hills for the check, but was allegedly told the sex offender lived at the next address. Freeman then went to 76 Autumn Hills road where Chris Coiner lives.

In a statement from Sheriff Ryals Monday, Freeman went to “the property listed as the subject’s address” but “there are several mobile homes at the 76 Autumn Hills Road address that are not distinguishable by letter or number.”

Coiner said that’s where Freeman shot his family’s dog.

“I was livid, I was livid with feelings and he didn’t care one bit,” said Coiner.

Coiner said the investigator shot his dog because it barked at him. He recorded his interaction with Freeman after the shooting and can be heard telling Freeman, “Get off my property, you shot and killed my G****** dog!”

Coiner said it happened as his kids were coming home from school. He said he heard his dog barking followed by a gunshot and that Freeman was the one who pulled the trigger.

“He did not make any attempt to get away from it, he didn’t make any attempt to get back in his vehicle, all he did was shoot the dog because he was barking at him,” said Coiner.

Sheriff Ryals said his investigation determined that Freeman had walked around the other side of the home after telling the dog “to get back” and had “his back against the mobile home and no way to escape the dog” when it “lunged at him.”

Coiner says his dog has never bitten anyone, and, as a father, it hurts to know his little boy doesn’t understand where his dog went.

“He was his buddy and we lost a family member,” said Coiner. “If you’re at the address that you’re serving a warrant at, I could see using force to be there. But, if you know you’re not at the address on the warrant, there is no reason to use any force for any reason.”

Sheriff Ryals said the department investigation “concluded that no policies or laws were violated,” and multiple witnesses said the dog “had a history of acting aggressively towards humans.”

See the full statement below:

Since taking office in 2017, I have been an advocate of integrity, professionalism, and transparency. I hold my deputies and investigators to the highest of standards to protect and serve the residents of our community.

On Tuesday I was notified of a use of force incident that occurred on November 9, 2020, involving Investigator James Freeman. The incident occurred at 76 Autumn Hills Road where Investigator Freeman fired his service weapon at an animal.

Investigator Freeman was doing a compliance check on a registered sex offender, and went to the property listed as the subject’s address. There are several mobile homes at the 76 Autumn Hills Road address that are not distinguishable by letter or number. Upon arrival, a juvenile female informed Investigator Freeman that the sex offender lived next door to her. Investigator Freeman approached the mobile home, and a dog came from under the building and started barking and growling. Investigator Freeman told the dog to get back. The dog then went back under the mobile home after being called by his owner from behind the mobile home.

Investigator Freeman began to walk towards the back of the mobile home. However, after taking a few steps, the dog approached him more aggressively. Investigator Freeman was placed in an unfortunate situation with his back against the mobile home and no way to escape the dog. He again told the dog to get back and the dog lunged at him. As a result, Investigator Freeman deployed his weapon on the animal. 

At my request, Faulkner County Investigators have been working diligently over the last week to determine whether or not Investigator Freeman violated any state law and/or our agency’s policies and procedures. During that time, Investigators spoke with multiple witnesses who stated the dog had a history of acting aggressively towards humans. After a thorough investigation, we have concluded that no policies or laws were violated.

We, in law enforcement, answer calls every day that require split-second, life and death decisions. We strive to be right 100 percent of the time. Our Department is saddened by this unfortunate incident and sincerely apologize for any distress it may have caused.

Faulkner County Sheriff Tim Ryals

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