Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A police chief in western Kern County has surrendered his guns after local family got a restraining order against him.

A Maricopa resident applied for the temporary restraining order after Chief Gene Fretheim shot and killed her 9-year-old pit bull, and now another woman is considering filing a similar restraining order. The police department says the chief was acting in self-defense.

The temporary restraining order forced Fretheim to hand over his weapons to the Taft Police Department Monday, but a department spokesman said he still is working, just without the weapons.

Lisa Chavez got the order that disarmed the chief. She could not be reached Monday, but her neighbor of 22 years,  Lisa Chavez, Rockey Shafer, described what happened the day the dog was shot, and the reaction of Chavez's 11-year-old son, Logan.

"He came up to me that day--he calls me Grandma--and he said, 'Grandma, they killed my dog.'" Shafer said fighting back tears.

Shafer is upset and surprised Maricopa police Chief Fretheim shot and killed the family's pet.

"It was an old pit bull," Shafer said describing the dog. "My sister walks by there every day. She walks her mile in town. The dog just raises up and goes 'woof,' you know just real lazy-like. So the dog was not aggressive."

17 News tried contacting the Chief but was not at the Maricopa Police Department and he wasn't returning calls. Dispatch said they were unable to locate the Chief, however, Sgt. Derek Merritt, who spoke on behalf of the police department, said Fretheim is complying with the temporary restraining order.

"According to the restraining order he can't be in possession,'' of a gun, Merritt said. "So he, from my understanding, has turned his firearms over to the Taft Police Department.''

Yet the case keeps growing. A similar charge is being lodged against the Maricopa Police Department for shooting a different pit bull who the owners say was chained up in the backyard of the house Justin Lewisburch and his girlfriend Heather rent.

"No one left us a permit or anything saying that our dog was to be fined or cited or needed registration or tags or anything like that," Lewisburch said. "It was just one day our dog was dead."

Police say there is more to the story, and told 17 News the owner of the home called them, complaining she couldn't get into the house.

"The people that lived in the house had been evicted and moved out," Merritt explained. "The property owner was trying to make entry into her yard but she couldn't. The dog wouldn't let her in there."

Lewisburch and his girlfriend Heather said they have lived at the home the whole time, and marked up a "beware of dog" sign to the front gate to read, "Beware, they will murder your dog."

Lewisburch and his girlfriend are going to file a restraining order against Maricopa Police.

"I know they illegally trespassed by property illegally and killed my animal," she said.

Meantime, the Maricopa Police Department says the community is going to suffer without an armed police chief.

"The biggest thing is it puts a big strain on the city because in this department, this size the chief wears the uniform on patrol as well as i do and now we are going to be forced to pay officers overtime to cover his shift because you wouldn't want an officer coming to your house without a gun," Sgt Merritt told 17 News.

Chief Fertheim is due in court on October 15, for the initial shooting and current temporary restraining order.


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