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Tag: police

Family dog tackles suspect fleeing police

As many times as we’ve reported on police, while responding to a call, shooting and killing a homeowner’s dog, it’s only right to share this story with you — and perhaps remind police that not every dog is their enemy.

This one, named Georgio, turned out to be an ally.

When two suspects trying to outrun Volusia Count sheriff’s deputies cut through a backyard, Georgio leaped up, chased them, and brought one down.

The homeowner, Mario Figueroa, said he was lighting his fire pit when the two men came running through his yard.

“I was standing right there and didn’t even see the gentlemen coming in from behind me,” he told News 6.

The tackle was captured on video from a Volusia County sheriff’s helicopter.

Deputies on foot caught up with and arrested two men, identified as Corey Williams and Deonte Broady.

The two-year-old rescue dog was tethered with a long leash when he brought down the suspect.

“The guys were on his territory and he took them down,” Figueroa said.

Deputies said the men were driving with a stolen tag. After the pursuit began, they ditched the car and were trying to escape on foot.

That’s when they made the mistake of entering Georgio’s yard.

“Yeah, he took him down like a professional police dog,” Figueroa said. “He’s pretty awesome. Georgio just took care of me. He’s a wonderful dog.”

He wanted a lawyer, dawg, not a lawyer dog

entrapmentClearly, there’s a bit of a cultural divide between the gritty streets of New Orleans and the plush chambers of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

And that might explain why the state justices denied a request to hear the appeal of a man awaiting trial who says remarks he made to police after he asked for “a lawyer dog” were used against him.

Apparently the state Supreme Court, didn’t buy his contention that he was asking for “a lawyer, dawg.”

So, for the lack of a comma in a transcript, he’s facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Asking for “a lawyer dog,” the state’s high court said, was an “ambiguous” request.

Here, based on police transcripts, is exactly what Warren Demesme told a detective:

“This is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what’s up.”

In an attempt to suppress what police said was a confession, Demesme contended that police denied his constitutional right to an attorney when they questioned him two years ago.

But to the Supreme Court, asking for a “lawyer dog” wasn’t a clear enough request to make clear he was attempting to exercise his Miranda rights.

Apparently, under the courts thinking, he could have been asking to be represented by an actual lawyer dog — maybe an F. Lee Beagle or a Johnnie Cockerspaniel, or that lawyer dog who appears in recurring dog memes. (That’s him, above)

All of this would be laughable (or mildly amusing) if not for the serious of the case.

Warren DemesmeDemesme, 24, was arrested in October 2015 on allegations that he sexually assaulted two juvenile victims, including the rape of one preteen girl. He faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of the rape charge, NOLA.com reports.

Justices voted 6-1 last week to deny the writ application of Demesme, who awaits trial in Orleans Parish on charges of first-degree rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile under 13.

Demesme was seeking to suppress a purportedly incriminating statement made to NOPD sex crimes detective Nijel Baddoo. Demesme admitted to sexually assaulting one of the child accusers, but denied doing so to the other, according to arrest documents.

State Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton concurred with the majority opinion issued late Friday that Demesme did not clearly invoke his right to counsel.

Crichton cited a 2002 state Supreme Court decision that requires a certain level of clarity in a suspect or defendant’s request for counsel.

“As this court has written, ‘If a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal in that a reasonable police officer in light of the circumstances would have understood only that the suspect might be invoking his right to counsel, the cessation of questioning is not required,'” Crichton wrote.

In both recorded interviews with police, Demesme was read his Miranda rights, said he understood them and waived those rights, Crichton said.

“In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview,” he wrote.

Zombie dogs invade Chicago suburb … NOT!

zombiedog1

“Zombie dogs” are invading a western suburb of Chicago.

Makes for a catchy headline, if not an entirely true one. As you might guess, the creatures in question aren’t really zombies, aren’t really dogs, and aren’t really invading.

What they are is coyotes, infected with a type of mange that affects their vision, making them more likely to be active during the day.

The police department in Hanover Park, warning the public to stay away from the animals, characterized their appearance as that of “zombie dogs.”

On its Facebook page, the police department said it has received calls from citizens who have seen the coyotes and think they are neglected, malnourished dogs.

“Recently we have received several messages and posts from citizens concerned about what appear to be malnourished or neglected stray dogs. These are NOT lost pets, but are in fact coyotes. There is unfortunately an increase in sarcoptic mange in the urban coyote populations which has caused these normally noctural animals to become more active during the day.

“Infected animals will often appear “mangy” – which looks just like it sounds. They suffer hair loss and develop secondary infections, eventually looking like some sort of ‘zombie’ dog.

“The infections affect their vision, causing them to look for food during the daylight hours. These infected animals are not normally aggressive, but should be avoided at all times. Please DO NOT approach these animals or allow your pets to approach them.”

There’s some argument over whether the photo police posted is that of a coyote with mange. One comment-leaver insists it’s a dog; another says its a coyote, photographed in California.

Police warned residents to secure their garbage cans and not leave food out, or for that matter, their dogs.

Coyotes are abundant in the southern, southeastern and west-central areas of Illinois, but there hasn’t been a case of a human bitten by a coyote in 30 years, according to the University of Illinois.

Officer: “I’ve dispatched both of them;” Body cam: Maybe he fired too quickly

Body camera video released by Minneapolis police last week seems to confirm that the two pit bulls an officer encountered in a family’s backyard weren’t posing an immediate threat to him when he shot them both earlier this month.

“I’ve dispatched both of them,” officer Michael Mays can be heard saying on his radio after he shot one dog that approached him with tail wagging, and then fired multiple shots at a second one that ran in his direction.

The officer was responding to a security alarm that had been accidentally set off. One dog suffered a bullet wound to the jaw. The other was hit in the body by several shots. Both dogs survived and are receiving treatment.

The officer said in a report he filed after the shooting that both dogs were “charging” at him, but the body cam video — in addition to footage from the family’s security camera — have fueled complaints that he was not in imminent danger when he fired the shots.

After shooting the dogs, the officer climbs a fence out of the backyard and walks down an alley before going to the front door of the home to let the residents know he had shot their dogs.

The full video can be seen in this CBS Minnesota report.

Mays said the dogs barked and growled at him, but the earliest parts of the video are missing audio that would confirm that.

rockoThe body camera footage was released Thursday afternoon by Michael Padden, the attorney for the dogs’ owner, Jennifer LeMay, who says the animals are service dogs for her children.

The day after the shooting, LeMay posted surveillance video taken by a backyard camera to Facebook, where it went viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

The body camera video shows Mays encountering LeMay’s daughter, who accidentally set off the alarm.

“I don’t like shooting no dogs,” the officer explains to 18-year-old Courtney Livingston before inquiring if the dogs are OK.

“I don’t know,” she answers. “I have blood all over my house and they’re both walking that I know of.”

Livingston accidentally tripped the alarm and was the only one home when the incident took place.

rockocirocandlemayAt the Thursday news conference where the video was released, Jennifer LeMay said both dogs — Rocko and Ciroc — are having difficult recoveries:

“Rocko, physically, is probably at 75 percent; emotionally and mentally, he’s not there.”

She said she doubted the dogs were behaving too aggressively when the officer shot them. Her lawyer questioned why there was no audio in the earliest portion of what was recorded. It does not come on until after the shots were fired.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau described the video as “difficult to watch,” offered to assist the family in paying vet bills and promised to start providing training to officers on dealing with dogs.

(First photo, a recovering Rocko, Facebook; second photo, Rocko and Ciroc with LeMay at home, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Police officer shoots two dogs in family’s back yard, one of whom was wagging its tail

Minneapolis police say they are helping a local family with their veterinary bills and will institute a mandatory training program after an officer shot two dogs Saturday in the family’s fenced back yard Saturday.

“This was an outcome that no one wanted,” Police Chief Janee Harteau said. “I’ve asked for an Internal Affairs use of force review. We are reaching out to the family to help them with the veterinary care bills to ensure that both dogs are adequately taken care of.

“To help us prevent similar outcomes in the future,” she added, “we will be implementing updated mandatory training specifically for officers identifying effective tools and tactical strategies with police and dog encounters.”

One of the dogs, Rocko, was shot multiple times and is doing OK after surgery. The other, Ciroc, was shot in the face and has a fractured jaw.

The owner of the two pit bulls, Jennifer LeMay, called the officer “trigger happy,” and said the dogs were not attacking. One was even wagging its tail.

“My dog had stopped. My dog wasn’t even facing him to charge him or be in an aggressive manner to him. You still shot him,” she wrote in a Facebook post that included footage from the surveillance camera.

The officer was responding to a residential burglary alarm, and did not know it had been set off accidentally by the homeowner’s daughter when she returned home, KARE11 reported.

Police say they will review the surveillance video as well as that recorded by the officer’s body cam.

Chief Harteau described the video as “difficult to watch.”

The dog can be seen approaching the officer, but not in a manner that clearly appeared to be “charging,” as the officer described in a police report.

LeMay has set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with the dogs’ medical bills. Its $15,000 goal was quickly reached. As of 3 p.m. Monday people had contributed more than $20,000.

Last month’s feel-good story takes bad turn

Luke the K9 solo (Courtesy of Joel Fields)

A suburban police officer who made national headlines for rescuing a doomed shelter dog and training him for police work has been fired from his job — and his whole story is now being questioned.

On top of that, the Bel-Ridge Police Department, outside St. Louis, is asking that officer Joel Fields return the dog that taxpayers, at least in part, paid to have trained, at least in part, as a police K9.

The total truth about the story is still unraveling, but the untruths unearthed so far indicate the heartwarming account Fields gave the news media wasn’t entirely accurate — including the claim that the dog, named Luke, came from a shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized.

As a result, and as has happened before, all across the Internet, thousands of hearts were falsely warmed.

As usual, we can blame lazy news media, and even lazier bloggers, for the misinformation — as well as the officer whose account of saving the dog from death’s doorstep was initially accepted on its face as truthful.

fieldsFields was praised by PEOPLE and pictured as a savior by numerous dog websites after the story broke in April.

(Fortunately, ohmidog! wasn’t one of them. We’d like to say it’s because it didn’t pass our special sniff test, or get approved by our crack team of fact checkers, but it was probably more dumb luck.)

Still, there were clues — like how hard Fields seemed to be seeking publicity, the professionally made photos he supplied of him and Luke, and the boasting about all the drug busts Luke nearly immediately made as a rookie on the job.

“He made seven drug busts in less than a month and a half of working the road with me,” Fields told Fox2 News.

How true that is — as well as the rest of the story Fields gave about the retriever — are now under suspicion.

News4 in St. Louis is now reporting that Brad Croft, the owner of Universal K9, the company that helped train Luke, is saying the account Fields gave the news media was mostly lies.

“I was a little upset, because Joel was told from the day I handed him the leash of the dog that this was not a shelter dog,” said Croft.

Croft told News4 he suspects Fields was lying about the dog’s background in an effort to gain fame and “get people to back him and give him money.”

Officials are also now investigating whether Luke was fully trained and certified as a police dog.

City prosecutor Sam Alton says Fields initially told them the dog was certified as a K9, but he says they have learned that is not true. That fact could complicate any criminal court cases Luke played a role in.

Alton says Fields is now refusing to give up the dog, whose training was funded at least in part by taxpayers.

“We would like to see the taxpayers not lose money, we would like the dog to live a happy and productive life and we would like to see the dog in service as it was meant to be,” Alton said.

“Everything legally from our point of view shows that the dog belongs to the city of Bel-Ridge,” he added. “It’s unfortunate for the city, it’s unfortunate for the residents, it’s unfortunate for the dog and it’s unfortunate for him (Fields).”

Fields told News4 over the phone this week that he quit and wasn’t fired, and wouldn’t comment anymore until talking to his attorney.

KMOV.com

$1.26 million awarded to family of dog shot and killed by police officer in Maryland

vern

A jury has awarded $1.26 million to a Maryland family whose dog was shot and killed by police in 2014 — the largest award ever in the U.S. for such a case, according to the law firm that represented the family.

According to a press release from the Hansel Law firm in Baltimore, the verdict came after a three-day trial in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.

“The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well,” said Cary J. Hansel, the attorney for Michael Reeves of Glen Burnie.

Reeves’ four-year-old retriever, Vern, was shot by an officer responding to a burglary call in Reeves’ neighborhood.

Anne Arundel County police officer Officer Rodney Price claimed he was attacked by Vern, but forensic evidence presented at the trial led the jury to conclude otherwise.

vern2Vern was a Chesapeake Bay retriever. The breed is the state dog of Maryland.

The officer encountered the dog in the family’s front yard, and the officer said the dog barked and ran toward him.

During the trial, the officer admitted that the dog did not bite or injure him before he fired his weapon. The officer also said no other steps were taken to deal with the dog before the dog was shot two times, the Capital Gazette reported.

A necropsy performed at the request of Anne Arundel County police showed that one bullet entered the dog’s sternum, and another bullet entered the dog’s side, at a time when the dog’s body was perpendicular to the gun.

Attorney Hansel said that evidence contradicted Price’s testimony regarding how the shooting occurred.

An internal investigation by the police department earlier determined the dog had behaved aggressively. Price remains with the police department.

The jury found that Price was not attacked by the dog, that the shooting violated Reeves’ constitutional rights, and that it was committed with gross negligence.

Reeves got Vern in 2009 and took a year off work to train him. He declined to comment after the verdict.

The $1.26 million verdict includes $500,000 in monetary damages and $760,000 in damages for the anguish caused by the shooting.

The firm says the award was the largest ever in a case of a dog shot and killed by a police officer.

The Department of Justice estimates that about 10,000 dogs are shot by law enforcement officers every year in the United States.