The mood was serious but relaxed as about 100 people, many bearing signs and wearing #JusticeForGunner t-shirts, peacefully gathered in front of Lebanon City Hall Wednesday evening to voice their unhappiness over the July 6 fatal shooting of Gunner, the 15-month-old dog shot to death by city officers.
Marchers of all ages, many with dogs, assembled in the parking lot behind City Hall, then proceeded up 7th Street to Cumberland Street, where they gathered around the main entrance.
Gunner’s shooting was caught on video by a neighbor and posted on social media.
Gunner’s owners, Jacklyn and Jamie Shughart, along with many who have viewed the video, maintain that Gunner was scared but not aggressive toward officers when he was shot.
The city maintains that Gunner’s shooting was justified.
FOX43 News reports that Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello says police body-worn cameras show that the shooting was necessary. Capello said an internal investigation is underway, but there are no plans to release the body cam video.
There were no featured speakers, but Jacklyn and Jamie Shughart patiently answered questions from reporters for over an hour.
Chants of “We want justice!” and “Justice for Gunner!” spontaneously broke out as passing motorists and truck drivers honked in support.
Neither Capello nor Police Chief Todd Breiner spoke to the crowd.
Asked what “justice for Gunner” would be, Jacklyn Shughart said “in a perfect world, I’d get my dog back.” Asked what could be done short of bringing Gunner back, she said “that will come out when our lawyer delivers something to the police.”
Jacklyn’s husband, Jamie, said “what we want out of this is for other dogs in the future to never be treated like this.”
Shughart said the family has retained attorney Kristina Bergsten of Philadelphia’s The Animal Law Firm, but would not say whether a lawsuit is planned. Bergsten could not be reached for comment by publication time.
Many in the crowd thought that justice for Gunner should at a minimum include better training for police officers who have to handle terrified or aggressive dogs.
“I know there are people who are offering to help the police learn to handle stray dogs,” said Palmyra resident Tace Popp. “I think in the long run this could be a positive.”
Marcher Brittany Osiecki said Gunner’s death should be used “to raise awareness, because obviously the cop had no idea what he was doing. More cops need to learn the right procedures.”
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