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River Views

On January 7th Fort Bragg police officer Craig Guydan pulled his gun on a group of teens, who turned out to be playing football on the street. Reportedly, Guydan kept the weapon pointed earthward while he ordered the youths face down on the ground, but in Fort Bragg it is news any time law enforcement draws a gun within city limits. In 2012, Fort Bragg Police Department officers drew a gun and discharged it just once. Want to guess who that lone officer was? That’s right, Craig Guydan.

It is not widely known, but Officer Guydan pulled his gun and fired it on the night of December 21, 2012 at 501 Walnut Street while responding to an excessive noise complaint. At approximately 8:15 that evening Officer Guydan shot and wounded a 35-pound terrier-mix dog.

In the incident that ended up being nothing more than a football game, Guydan was the first officer responding to a call that indicated a large number of juveniles pushing and shoving each other, if not fighting, on Cedar Street near Harold Street. According to FBPD Chief Scott Mayberry, known gang members had recently been seen in nearby Otis Johnson Park. A senior Fort Bragg PD officer was on his way to backup Guydan, as well as sheriff’s deputies, but Guydan did not wait for backup. He waded into the scene alone, unholstering his gun for protection. Seventeen days earlier, Guydan performed in a similar manner. He did not wait for backup while approaching a residence that contained several people.

Since the Walnut St. shooting is the one and only officer involved event of 2012, it bears closer examination. That December night, with music blaring from inside, Officer Guydan approached the Walnut Street house warily, according to one witness. The witness later said Guydan appeared “scared,” or at least tentative. He stepped from the street to knock on the door, a distance of no more than four to five feet. Officer Guydan claims to have heard multiple muffled voices inside and dogs growling. At some point, the front door was opened. Who opened it is not exactly clear.

Now we are down to a period of seven to eight seconds.

In his report Guydan claims that his audio recording device verifies the amount of time. In those seven to eight seconds, three dogs pushed their way through the open door at 501 Walnut. Officer Guydan says he retreated onto the street and that the medium-sized of the three dogs bit him on the ankle twice, though the bites apparently did not puncture his flesh. Guydan’s report says he tried booting the dog away. Not fully succeeding, Guydan claims he deliberately turned so he would not be facing the residence, pulled his sidearm, and shot the dog. The bullet entered near the dog’s neck and shoulder then exited from its belly. Everything, from the dogs pushing through the open door to the shooting, supposedly transpired in those seven to eight seconds. Guydan’s report takes nearly a full written page to intricately document his every move and thought during that brief time.

In both the football game incident and the dog shooting, senior officers arriving on the scene ushered Guydan away as quickly as possible. At the 501 Walnut shooting, FBPD Sergeant Brandon Lee, after securing the immediate scene, spent considerable time searching for the two other dogs that got loose at the time of the shooting. The terrier-mix dog has recovered, due in part to Sergeant Lee’s approval of department funds for emergency veterinary work.

Next River Views: How “Goldilocks” fits into the story.

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