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Tag: law enforcement

“The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it”


That police in St. Clair Shores in Michigan saw killing a dog as the preferable way to stop her barking has been pretty well documented in dash cam videos that have become public.

As soon as they pulled up at the scene, their dashboard camera recorded remarks they were making inside their patrol car, like “The only thing I’m going to do is shoot it” and “I don’t do snares. I don’t do dogs … I’ll shoot the f—ing thing.”

lexieBut why there were 15 bullet holes in Lexie, a dog police officers only admitted to shooting four times, is a question that may go unanswered — at least until a federal lawsuit filed by the dog’s owner comes to trial.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, stems from the November 2013 shooting of Lexie, a 44-pound mixed breed who was the subject of a barking dog complaint filed by a neighbor.

Lexie’s owner, Brittay Preston, filed the lawsuit against the city of St. Clair Shores, two police officers and an animal control officer, according to Fox News in Detroit. It alleges a violation of her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure.

The lawsuit seeks money damages, and assurances that St. Clair Township police will “train their officers so that there’s not another incident where they respond to a barking dog complaint by killing it,” said Preston’s attorney, Chris Olson.

Preston was at work and the dog was under the care of a grandfather, who suffers from dementia and forgot to let Lexie back inside during a cold night.

Officers, after discussing their alternatives in the patrol car, approached the home and eventually persuaded the grandfather to let the dog in the house. After he agreed to do so, they shot the dog saying she lunged at them in a threatening manner.

Attorney Olson said the discussion recorded by the dash came shows the shooting was premeditated.

“Neighbors complained of a dog that was barking. [Police] showed up. The first thing that they said out of their mouths was they don’t like dogs; they don’t do dogs; they’re going to shoot the dog anyway. And that’s exactly what they did,” he said.

“Then they shot the dog again, instead of trying to take care of the dog, getting some care of the dog to prevent it from dying, they did what they intended to do. They made sure that the dog died. They shot it again, and then the dog walked into the animal control van and then when we picked up the dog it had extra bullet holes,” he added.

A necropsy conducted by a veterinarians found 15 bullet holes in Lexie.

Officers, after shooting and wounding the dog, can be heard discussing what to do next, including “choking it out” and “using a shovel,” according to the lawsuit.

One officer remarked that would be a bad idea because “you know this is going to be all over Facebook in about an hour.”

“We’re saddened when anyone loses a pet, but since the city and its employees are being sued, the city will certainly defend the lawsuit,” St. Clair Shores City Attorney Robert Ihrie said in a statement. “The complaint that was filed is filled with innuendo, speculation and half truths, and I have no doubt when it’s held up to the light of day, the truth will bear itself out in court.”

(Photo: from the Justice for Lexie Facebook page)

Mayor apologizes for Arfee’s shooting

arfee2The mayor of Coeur d’Alene publicly apologized for a police officer’s fatal shooting of a dog in a parked van last week, and promised a full investigation into the dog’s death.

“We as a city again want to offer our complete apology to Mr.  Jones,” Mayor Steve Widmyer said at last night’s City Council meeting.

Widmyer said the city will “take full responsibility” for the death of the 2-year-old black Lab mix, named Arfee, if the investigation determines mistakes were made.

Arfee was alone in a parked van when a police officer — as yet unnamed — approached it from the rear during an investigation. The officer says the dog lunged at him when he neared the partially opened window. He fired one shot — through the window glass — hitting Arfee in the chest and killing him.

Police Chief Ron Clark also spoke at the start of last night’s council meeting, calling the shooting “a regrettable tragedy.” He said he has spoken to the dog’s owner, Craig Jones, a former Coeur d’Alene resident now living in Colorado who was visiting the Idaho city during the 4th of July weekend.

“I told him how sorry I was about this incident,” the chief said. “And we had a good conversation. We discussed the entire situation and also about how it was unintended.”

Jones left Arfee in the van while he went out to breakfast and returned to find a bullet hole through the window, according to the Spokesman-Review.

In a news release after the shooting, police said they were responding to a report of a suspicious van, possibly containing someone watching young children. When an officer approached the van on the driver’s side, “a vicious Pit Bull dog lunged out the open driver’s side window toward the Officer’s face,” the release said.

Police removed the dog’s body and left before Jones returned to this van. Police later said the dog was a Lab mix, not a pit bull.

A witness to the shooting also spoke at last night’s council meeting.

“Everything that I witnessed appeared to be a complete cover-up,” Jessi Johnson told the council. “Everybody watched and nobody did the right thing.”

Police Chief Clark said the department’s investigation will be reviewed by the city’s legal department, the administration and an outside authority yet to be identified. The results will he shared with the public, he said.

“I’m going to do everything I can to avoid anything like this happening in the future,” he added.

The officer involved will be reassigned from patrol to office duty until the investigation and reviews are completed, Clark said. The city has withheld the officer’s name and the officer’s report on the incident, according to the Spokesman-Review.

A case of mistaken identities in Idaho

arfie

Not every white van is driven by a child predator.

Not every large dog is a pit bull.

Why police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, wanted to check out a white van parked near a coffee shop Wednesday morning is understandable: It fit the description of one being used by a child predator, and the coffee shop owners had called to report someone inside it was watching young children from a nearby parking lot.

Why the officer shot the van’s only occupant — a dog  –  is a little less understandable.

And why investigators called the dog a “vicious pit bull” makes even less sense.

Arfee was a black lab, according to his owner, Craig Jones, who was eating breakfast at a nearby restaurant — not scoping out children — when the officer approached his van from behind with his gun drawn.

When the dog lunged toward him out of the partially open driver’s side window the officer fired one round, through the window, hitting Arfee in the chest. He later died.

Jones said Arfee, who was two years old, did not have a mean bone in his body. “This still isn’t even real to me,” Jones told KREM 2 News.

“If my dog is barking and wondering who’s peering through the windows he doesn’t care if you’re a cop, an attorney, or President Bush,” said Jones. “He doesn’t know any difference.”

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Ron Clark said the department is reviewing the shooting, and said initial police reports describing the dog as a pit bull were erroneous.

“Animal control officers originally identified the dog as a pit bull,” he said. “The Police Department had a veterinarian examine the dog and it has been identified as a lab mix.”

“We understand the grief the family is dealing with due to the loss of their pet. We also understand the distress this has caused for citizens,” Clark said. “The officer who shot the dog is also distraught over this incident.”

Arfee’s owner, who formerly lived in Coeur d’Alene, was visiting for the 4th of July weekend, according to the Spokesman-Review.

“Best 4th of July weekend in cda eva,” Jones, who now lives in Colorado, posted on his Facebook page earlier in the week.

On Wednesday, he posted this: “Cda cops just shot my dog while I ate lunch at Java?”

Yesterday, he thanked his Facebook friends for their support. “Today is definitely harder than yesterday. Just seeing his ball in my rig tears me apart,” he wrote. “This cop left a hole in both of (us) that can’t be fixed.”

(Photo: Craig Jones’ Facebook page)

“I’m going to gut this thing,” Baltimore cop allegedly said before slitting dog’s throat


A Baltimore City police officer has been charged with slitting the throat of a dog that had been running loose — even though the dog had already been restrained.

“We have no words to describe this. To say that we are appalled at this allegation is an understatement,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said.

bolgerOfficer Jeffrey Bolger has been charged with felony animal cruelty, police officials announced Wednesday afternoon.

Police were called Saturday morning to Grundy Street in southeast Baltimore for a report of a stray dog that had bitten someone trying to rescue it.

Police had secured the dog using a catch pole, but after that Bolger, an officer assigned to the emergency services division, used a knife to cut the dog’s throat, police said.

“Unfortunately, at some point after the dog was contained, one of our officers used a knife and cut the dog’s throat. This is outrageous and unacceptable breach of our protocol,” Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said.

WJZ in Baltimore reported that charging documents quote Bolger as saying, “I’m going to gut this thing.”

The dog later died.

Police officials said they knew of no reason for the officer to use such force on a dog that was already under control.

The dog had run off from her home nearby. She was a 7-year-old shar-pei named Nala, whose owner was searching for her and had posted her pictures on a community Facebook page.

“She was just the sweetest dog and would never hurt anyone,” Sarah Gossard told 11 News. “She was just scared that day and through all of those events — scared and lost, thirsty, hungry — yes I’m very sure that she bit someone, but the actions after that were not OK,” the dog’s owner,

Bolger been suspended without pay.

“I don’t want him to have his job, I don’t want him to be able to go out on calls and react like that to a person, to a dog, to anything. That’s not OK, that’s not OK,” Gossard said.

An investigation into the incident will also look at other officers who, though aware of what happened, had not reported it,.

Police commanders said they “caught wind of it Monday” — two days after Nala was killed.

Officer saves dog from submerged pickup

harrimanA “dog-loving” police officer dived into a Massachusetts pond to save a pooch trapped in the cab of a submerged pick-up truck.

Police in Carver received a call Saturday after the truck went into the murky pond.

By the time Officer David Harriman arrived, one of two dogs had escaped and was standing on shore with the owner. But the other hadn’t surfaced, according to Boston.com

“Instead of waiting for the dive team, I decided to go in and try and get the dog,” Harriman explained.

“Seconds mean a big difference for animals, and people for that matter, under water,” he said.

The owner of the dogs, Debra Titus, 59, of Plymouth, stopped the vehicle next to a pond that provides water to the local fire department to argue with a man about dogs, South Coast Today reported.

“She thought she threw it in park but in fact threw it in reverse,” Sgt. Raymond Orr said. “It backed up and went into the pond.”

According to a police department press release, Harriman “removed his gun belt and dove into the murky water … He then managed to open the door and enter the vehicle and retrieve the dog. The dog was returned to its owner in good health but a little frightened.”

A photo of Harriman standing on the roof of the submerged Toyota Tacoma, with the tiny dog in his arms, is racking up the likes on Facebook.

Harriman, who described himself as a dog lover, has an 8-month old bulldog named Jaxx.

CHP officer saves Chihuahua from interstate

highwaychihuahua

The center divider of Interstate 680 is not a place you want to be — especially if you’re a Chihuahua.

It’s a small wall of concrete that separates multiple northbound lanes of whizzing traffic from multiple southbound lanes of whizzing traffic, and the top of it is only about as wide as … well, a Chihuahua.

A California Highway Patrol officer spotted the dog atop the divider around 6 p.m. Friday, near the North Main Street overpass in Walnut Creek, and used a protein bar to coax it toward him.

The dog, uninjured, was taken by Contra Costa Animal Services personnel to an animal shelter in Martinez, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco reported.

CHP Officer John Fransen said it’s likely someone left the dog there.

“As sad as it sounds, it actually happens pretty often,” he said.

Since Friday night, there have been several offers from the public to adopt the dog, the officer said

One very brave piece of “property”

mickNormally, we would call Mick, a Portland, Oregon, police dog killed in the line of duty this week, a hero.

Or maybe even a life-saver, which is how his partner, Officer Jeff Dorn, referred to him while recuperating in a hospital  from two gunshot wounds fired by the same burglary suspect who fatally gunned down Mick.

But according, at least, to an Oregon Court of Appeals decision — issued the very same day Mick died while trying to apprehend the fleeing, gun-firing suspect – Mick, being a dog, was merely “property.”

The court ruling wasn’t about Mick — instead it stemmed from an abuse case — but the timing and juxtaposition of the two stories serve to make a point that society, and lawmakers, and law enforcers, and courts, ought to start heeding.

Dogs aren’t toasters.

Mick joined the Portland Police Bureau K-9 Unit in March. After only a few days on the job, police, he captured three suspects within a 10-hour period. On Wednesday, he was with Dorn, chasing down a fleeing burglary suspect, when he was shot.

“Officer Dorn would like the community to know that ‘Mick saved my life,’ ” Portland police Sgt. Pete Simpson said in a press release.

“The dog was doing its job. He was out there protecting our community, and it’s tragic that we lost the dog,” said Portland Police Chief Mike Reese.

dornandmickAfter Mick’s body was recovered, a procession of police cars followed him to a veterinarian’s office, according to a report in Wednesday’s Oregonian, but it was too late.

On the same day Mick died, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling declaring — in line with what all the law books say — that dogs are “property.”

As such, the three-judge panel ruled, dogs can’t be seized and examined without a warrant, even if the purpose is to save a dog’s life.

The legal view of dogs as — above all else — property both degrades and endangers man’s best friend, and can make it difficult for animal-cruelty investigators to provide help to beaten, starved or neglected pets.

Changing that age-old view would require throwing away a lot of law books, and it would require judges to finally start showing half the backbone Mick did.

It’s time to make a legal distinction between inanimate ”property” that has no soul, and “property” (if we must call them that) that does have a soul.

The Court of Appeals Wednesday did the opposite, throwing out the conviction of a 28-year-old woman who, based on evidence from a veterinarian who tested and treated the animal without a warrant, was found guilty of starving her dog, the Oregonian reported.

After an informant told the Oregon Humane Society that Amanda L. Newcomb was beating her dog and failing to properly feed it, an animal-cruelty investigator went to Newcomb’s apartment in December 2010 and saw the dog in the yard “in a near emaciated condition.”

Newcomb told the investigator she was out of dog food and that she was going to get some more, but the investigator  determined the dog likely needed medical care and brought the dog to a Humane Society vet for an examination.

That exam, according to the appeals court ruling, constituted unreasonable search and seizure of property — namely, Newcomb’s dog.

While the investigator had probable cause to seize the dog without a warrant, the court said, the “search” — i.e. medical exam — of the dog violated Newcomb’s privacy rights because the authorities hadn’t obtained a warrant.

The ruling effectively overturns her conviction on charges of second-degree animal neglect, and the original judge’s orders for her to serve one year of probation and not possess animals for five years.

It could also serve to hamper animal cruelty investigations across the state.

Maybe worst of all, it confirms the foolish concept that dogs — despite their heroics, despite their loyalty, despite their having character traits that we humans can only envy — are, first and foremost, property, a wrongful designation that legally, if not in reality, seems to trump all else.

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