BAR SET LOW
A police contact gone sour last Saturday night/Sunday morning in Bishop led to a local man being hospitalized, his dog shot and killed, and two deputies injured during an altercation which occurred at the Bishop Chevron.
The time of the incident was approximately 2:30 a.m.
According to a statement posted on the Inyo County Sheriff’s Facebook page on Sunday, July 25, “On July 24 shortly after 2 a.m., Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a domestic violence restraining order violation at 969 Tu Su Lane. Upon arrival of the deputies, neither the reporting party nor the suspect could be located. While looking in the area, the deputies noticed a male subject across the street at the Chevron station, which was closed.
Body cam footage released on July 26 shows a deputy calling out towards the male subject, later identified as 32-year old George Barlow III, from across the parking lot. The deputy waves and shouts “Hi.”
Barlow then marches towards the deputy in an aggressive manner, ignoring requests to halt.
The deputy then tases Mr. Barlow.
In the ensuing scrum, he is tased a second time, hit with a baton, wrestles with a deputy for the baton, and has a deputy shoot and kill his dog.
According to Sheriff Jeff Hollowell, Barlow’s dog bit both officers.
In the shock and aftermath of the shooting, a dazed Barlow gets to his feet and tries to wander away from the officers as he’s repeatedly told to get on the ground.
This is when Deputy Timothy Noonan retrieves the Sheriff’s K9 dog from his squad car.
The K9 is then released upon Mr. Barlow, who by this time is in a parking lot across the street.
While Hollowell estimated that the dog was on Mr. Barlow somewhere between 2:13 and 2:23 a.m. , eyewitness Eva Kinney, who lives in the apartment complex where the K9 reached Barlow, believes the dog was on him for far longer.
She recorded two consecutive videos of approximately five and three minutes in length. While the lighting is poor and it is difficult to make out exactly what is happening, based on the audio, her sister-in-law Marla Kinney, Mr. Barlow’s cousin, believes the dog was on Barlow during the entirety of the five-minute video.
Eva Kinney and Sheriff Hollowell also disagree on the K9’s response to his handler’s call to get off. Hollowell said it seemed like the dog’s response to the command was immediate; Kinney said it wasn’t.
“Reality is, the dog is a tool,” said Hollowell. If he [Barlow] is actively resisting, you leave the dog on. Once we got his arms, then we called the dog off.”
“It took all three of ‘em [the two deputies and a Bishop Police officer who arrived on back-up] to gain control with a dog on him,” added Hollowell.
While the toxicology results had not come back as of Wednesday, when The Sheet spoke to Hollowell, he said, “It’s obvious to me he [Barlow] was under the influence of narcotics.” He said it was also likely Mr. Barlow had also been drinking.
Eva Kinney says she heard Mr. Barlow screaming in pain in the ambulance after he had been loaded inside. And the scene was a bloody mess. The Fire Department had to come by just before 4 a.m. to hose down the parking lot.
Mr. Barlow, according to cousin Marla, had to be flown to Loma Linda as a result of his injuries – particularly injuries to his abdominal area – and was placed in an induced coma.
He awoke Monday and is in stable condition, according to cousin Marla, but is being sedated.
She, for one, is skeptical of how the Sheriff’s Department has framed the incident.
“All they repeatedly say is get in the ground … but he’s on the ground. Never once do you hear the officers say, ‘stop hitting us.’ And when he’s grabbing the officer’s baton – of course he’s grabbing the baton. He doesn’t want to get hit again.”
“What they show [with the body cam videos] is a partial of one and a partial of the other. They don’t show the entirety of the dog’s attack on George.”
“And their claim that George threatened to kill the officer,” concluded Marla, “that’s never stated on the video.”
Kinney, who posted her sister-in-law’s video to Facebook, posted the following statement on her Facebook feed Wednesday: “Hello all, during this time of posting the video of George Barlow, I have been threatened by the chief of police with charges if I didn’t take down my video. Now I have been told that I have a warrant for my arrest but I am now in fear for my safety.”
Hollowell says the District Attorney’s office is conducting an investigation into the actions of the deputies while the Sheriff’s Department is conducting a criminal investigation into Barlow. An outside firm will also be retained to perform a “use of force” review, going through policies and procedures to determine whether Officers Timothy Noonan and Ryan Cuthbert properly followed protocols.
When asked what the criminal investigation into Barlow entailed, Hollowell said, “Assault on officers. His dog bit both officers. He was biting as well. We know he’s on parole … “
Hollowell said he met with the Bishop Paiute Tribal Council this week to review what happened. “We have a good working relationship,” he said of the Council. “I meet with them quite often. They had a lot of questions.”
In a perfect world, concluded Hollowell, different choices and different reactions and different decisions could have been made that night. And the outcome could have been even worse.
“You can ‘what if’ it to death … if Barlow had gotten possession of that baton and come at ‘em [the deputies], he could’ve gotten shot.”
The video from Kinney’s page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/100070223904678/vid
Body cam footage from Inyo County Deputies can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvfjHBG4hxw