Saturday, February 21, 2009

SWAT: No knock warrant results in death of dog

An Australian cattle dog is dead after SWAT paramilitary raided a house using a no-knock warrant.

Just imagine, for one moment, you, your 12-yr-old kid and your spouse are sitting down to watch some television when the door is blown open and a dozen heavily armed, uniformed people storm in. Then imagine your dog doing what a dog does when threatened and being shot at three times. A bullet misses and lands in your mattress.

That's what happened to the family in the article when Howard County SWAT invaded their home.

The search warrant was issued for the family's stepson who hasn't lived at the home in three years. On the search warrant someone had scratched out one person's name and handwritten the stepson's in its stead. I mean, really, at least get a no-knock warrant with the correct person typed on the document.

The owner of the dog has filed a complaint but so far no disciplinary action has been taken against any of the officers who invaded this family's home.

The Maryland legislature is introducing a bill that would, at the very least, require monthly reports to the attorney general on no-knock warrants and SWAT activity. This is in result to the tragic death of two dogs when SWAT invaded the Berywn Heights mayor's home. The mayor was not guilty of any crime and one of his dogs had been running from police when he was shot in the back.

Friday, February 20, 2009

TX: Family grieve death of friendly dog

Police in Texas responded to an auto-alarm at an apartment two houses down from where an 8-yr-old pit bull resided. For some reason, the police cruiser pulled up in the driveway of the home with the dog. The dog got out and approached the car. The owner immediately grabbed the dog and put him back in the house.

Located only four feet away, the owner was not given a chance to grab his dog before an officer opened fire, shooting once, pausing then shooting three more times.

The dog was hit by all four bullets. At least one bullet struck the house next door.

The shooting is being reviewed.

Milwaukee lawsuit over shooting death of dog

In 2004, a 7-yr-old Labrador/Springer Spaniel mix named Bubba was shot to death by police.

The police who shot and killed Bubba were apparently on the hunt for a man with a pit bull. They armed themselves with shotguns because, according to one of the officers, it was the best weapon for handling a dog (as opposed, to say, your brain).

Bubba was with his family in the backyard when the officers approached. The dog jumped over the fence and ran towards the officers who immediately opened fire, hitting the dog once. The dog retreated under a bush with his owner nearby, trying to coax him out. The officers refused to allow the owner to get the dog. As the officers approached again, the dog, obviously in pain, came out growling. Witnesses dispute this claim, though. One officer was ordered to shoot the dog two more times, killing him. Four shots were fired; three hitting the dog (two required to kill him).

And after the shooting? Police wrote Bubba's owner a $122 ticket for a loose dog.

Now, five years later, Bubba's case may be heard in federal court where officers stand accused of violating Bubba's owners fourth ammendment rights.

TN: Police shoot loose dogs

While serving a warrant, a Tennessee police officer shot one of two dogs who ran toward the officer. The dogs are described as pit bulls. It is unknown whether the officer was in an enclosed area or if the dogs were running loose.

FL: Family suing for '07 shooting of 11-yr-old dog

A Florida family is suing the Broward Sheriff's office for the shooting of their nearly-deaf Dalmatian in 2007. The officer did not knock on the door of the house but went around to the back where the dog barked at her (or a duck, apparently). At that point, the officer drew her gun and shot the dog twice. The dog survived.

Off duty officer not charged after killing leashed dog

Officer will not face any charges, for shooting a leashed dog.

LA: Police shoot charging dog

Police officer shots dogs in Bossier City, Louisiana
The department says officers tried to keep the dog in the front yard until animal control arrived but that the dog charged an officer, who then shot it.

Police shoot dog after calling dog's name

Mihal said someone in the neighborhood reported Sully after he jumped her fen

Becker said the officer initially tried to get control of the dog by calling to him and clapping his hands. But Sully became aggressive and as the officer backed up towards his car, the dog lunged at him before the officer fired one shot.

But if you call a dog, it will come," she said, adding she doesn't understand why pepper spray or mace wasn't used on Sully instead of a bullet.


The dog is a 5-yr-old Labrador Retriever

Officers leap fence, kill dog in own backyard

A next-door neighbor said she never heard Coco bark or growl at the officers.

Sandra Orozco, 27, said she was awakened by seven police officers in her backyard around 4:30 a.m. The officers then jumped the wall between the two yards, she said.

Orozco couldn't see the shooting while standing in her patio because the wall blocked her view, but she and her parents did hear two pops that she later learned were the fatal shots.

She said Coco was "always gentle" and played well with her 5-year-old daughter.

De La Torre, teary-eyed and surrounded by photos of the dog, said that was one of the reasons she adopted Coco.

She remembers first seeing him at the Lied Animal Shelter three years ago. While other dogs barked and jumped for attention, Coco didn't make a sound.


Indian River County deputies kill 20lb puppy

You have to trudge past the poorly written article to figure out what happened.

My best guess is this: A dog got loose and ended up in a neighbor's backyard. Neighbor calls 911 (yes, a loose 20lb dog is apparently an emergency) and deputies arrive. The 4.5 month old dog may have approached or glanced wrong at the officers who pumped the dog full of bullets, killing him. The dog appears to be a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Monday, a call for help. A neighbor called 911, "My neighbor's dog got loose." Loose in their backyard, deputies responded. Jeff Luther with the Indian River County Sheriff's Office says, "They were in fear of them attacking them."

The fear was too much. Two deputies shot and killed Snowy. Now, Shawn Bagley must burry his beloved pet, "I don't think that anyone was unsafe for a four and a half month puppy that weighs 20 something pounds."


If you are a police officer afraid of a 20 lb, 4.5 month old dog who may or may not be aggressive, I would suggest a career change.

FL: Deputy shoots and kills man's pet

ST. PETERSBURG — A week after a 9-year-old mutt named Smoke was felled by a deputy's bullets, the animal's death has provoked public outrage and led to investigations by police and animal advocates.

It began last Tuesday night when deputies went to Hutts' Suncove Apartments mobile home at 28th Street N, looking for the source of a burglary call.

Hutts came to the door with Smoke, who began barking. Deputy Robert McGuire told Hutts to secure the dog inside while he questioned her outside. But the dog got back outside.

McGuire said he feared Smoke was going to bite or attack him, so he drew his gun from his holster and shot the dog twice.


What's wrong with SWAT

In August of 2008, the lives of Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity and her mother Georgia were irrevocably altered when Prince George County SWAT and police officials stormed their house and shot their two friendly dogs (one as he ran away from the officers). The dogs died.

The Washington post recently published a great article on what the Calvo's went through that fateful day.

Of course, this story is truly more about the dogs (though the emotional impact is powerful and heart-wrenching) - it is about how faulty the "War on Drugs" really is. Innocent people have died and been emotionally scarred because of these no-knock warrants, all on the quest for a few pounds of pot or cocaine. Many dogs have died because they had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time doing what dogs do and defending their pack (or, if you're in Omaha, sitting at the end of a chain).

Americans have defended their right to privacy and the sanctity of their homes since Revolutionaries denounced British soldiers entering homes and businesses with impunity to search for contraband rum and tea and generate taxes for the British Crown. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable government searches and seizures. But civil libertarians argue that this constitutional protection has been seriously eroded in recent decades, largely as an unintended consequence of the nation's war on drugs.

In Balko's summary, paramilitary police units called Special Weapons Attack Teams, or SWATS, grew out of the social unrest of the 1960s. They were used to quell protesting migrant farm workers led by Cesar Chavez, then against urban rioters and in a shootout with the Black Panthers in Los Angeles. Balko writes: "Until the 1980s, SWAT teams and other paramilitary units were used sparingly, only in volatile, high-risk situations such as bank robberies or hostage situations. Likewise, 'no-knock' raids were generally used only in situations where innocent lives were determined to be at imminent risk. America's War on Drugs has spurred a significant rise in the numbers of such raids, to the point where in some jurisdictions drug warrants are only served by SWAT teams or similar paramilitary units, and the overwhelming numbers of SWAT deployments are to execute drug warrants."


Last year, Prince George's police deployed SWAT teams to serve search warrants more than 400 times, a police spokesman said. The department's narcotics unit now deploys its SWAT team to serve the overwhelming majority of its search warrants, Maj. Andy Ellis said. The Prince George's Police budget shows that the county expects to spend at least $2.5 million this year reaped from assets seized in drug raids.


Many victims of botched or abusive drug raids are poor minorities whom the public is unlikely to hear about or rally around, Boyd said. Legal immunity granted to police makes it difficult for victims to successfully sue for compensation, he said.

You can read the entire Washington Post article HERE.

Even more provocative is The Cato Institute's tracking of botched paramilitary (e.g. SWAT) police raids.

MS: Police kill dog who saved family from fire

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A pit bull dog is credited with saving a family from a house fire Wednesday morning, but then the dog took a bullet after charging two police officers.

The fire started around 5:00 at 440 Northside Drive, at the corner of Meadowlane Drive. The house is burned beyond repair. About seven people lived there, and they all got out safely.

The family pit bull alerted them to the fire by going room to room. But when police officers arrived on the scene, the pit bull charged at two of them, biting one in the hand. That officer was treated and released at the hospital.

Police confirm a Precinct 4 officer shot the dog. Family members say the dog is dead.

It's believed the fire started in the kitchen.


PA: Loose dog shot

A dog was running loose and bit a person. The article describes the attack as "multiple bites" while the police report that the man was bitten once and suffered scratches from when the dog jumped on him. The man was able to drive himself to the hospital.

When police arrived, they located the dog who approached and possibly lunged. The dog was shot multiple times by two different officers and survived.

Article source

Off-duty police officer shoots dogs

A Dallas officer will not face charges for the shooting death of one of two pit bulls. The two dogs had gotten loose. The off-duty officer's wife felt threatened by the loose dogs and called her husband. Neighbors were able to coax the dogs away but not confine them. When the off-duty officer arrived, the dogs were still loose. Witnesses claim that one of the dogs approached the officer in a non-threatening manner, but the guy shot the dog anyways.

Previous story:

Two dogs got loose from their backyard. At some point, they frightened a woman when they approached her and she felt threatened. She called her husband, a Dallas police officer (off duty), who rushed to the scene. Of course, before he arrived, neighbors had been able to lure the dogs away from the frightened woman who was never bitten, scratched, jumped on or injured.

The dogs were still loose when the off-duty police officer arrived. When one of the dogs trotted towards him in a non-threatening manner (according to witnesses), he pulled out his gun and shot the dog six times, killing her. The other dog was safely transported to animal control.

The owner of the dog plans on filing a complaint. The officer did fire a loaded weapon in the middle of a residential street where several people were present.

Omaha, Nebraska

Here's a creepy story out of Omaha, Nebraska (maybe they should look to restrict police officers, not pit bulls!) - four years ago, police officers entered the home of Colleen M. Carroll using a no-knock warrant. Even before opening a storm door, officers shot through the door, striking a 2-yr-old Labrador Retriever mix named Lucky, killing him. It is not an unreasonable "what-if" to ask what if a human in the house had walked by that storm door when these officers shot through it to shoot a non-aggressive dog?

Shooting dogs is nothing new to Omaha police - they've shot 39 since 2007.

According to court records, Officers Constance Garro and Mike Ashbrook, along with at least two unnamed officers, executed a no-knock search warrant at the Carroll home, 6568 Military Ave., on Nov. 18, 2004.

Carroll and Lucky Boy were in the living room at the time.

The lawsuit says officers, standing outside the home, had not announced their presence when one of them fired a shot that entered the house through a storm door and struck Lucky Boy. He died soon thereafter.

The Omaha Humane Society is going to train police officers on how to handle dogs they encounter on calls.

Other stuff on this subject:

In November of 2007, an activist took out an ad in the newspaper warning residents their dog may get shot by police. Also in that article, it noted that there were only five dog deaths by police gunshot in 2005 (when Colleen's 2 year old Lab mix was shot to death). Five. Fast-forward to 2007-2008 and there are, what, 39?

Some of the more egregious Omaha Police Shootings (b/c I'll grant that, sometimes, the only recourse is to use lethal force on a highly dangerous animal). This doesn't include the Lab mix or the German Shepherd mix being shot to death (I couldn't fine news articles on them). I could only find news articles on a few of the cases, and those were the ones where dogs were erroneously identified as pit bulls. The damage is done when only one out of fifty news sources correctly identifies the dog (with pictures, to boot).

August, 2008: A dog incorrectly identified as a pit bull mix who was shot and killed by police. The dog, a Heeler/Boxer/mutt with vaccinations and apparently licensed acted aggressively when police entered the home w or w/o invitation (that part is disputed). The dog caused a minor laceration to one officer. The response? The six-year-old pet was shot to death. You can see clearly from the video, especially when they show a side angle of the dog, that he is a mutt - pure and simple.

June, 2008: A dog incorrectly identified as a pit bull was shot and killed by Omaha police on the dog's property. The police officer noticed that a Jeep on the dogs' property was not up to date. So, he unlocked and opened the gate and entered the property. Two dogs, a Boxer mix (Chewy) and a pit bull ran out toward him. The officer claims the dogs were acting aggressive, the owner disagrees. Regardless, the Boxer mix was shot twice and later euthanized b/c of the injuries. The pit bull was not harmed. Interestingly, the humane society actually issues citations for allowing dogs to run loose, even though the dogs were in a fully enclosed yard...on their owner's property. Mind-boggling.

November, 2007: A mixed breed (no, not a pit bull mix) was shot at three times, one of the bullets actually hit him in the head. One bullet lodged into the owner's vehicle, another into the neighbor's home. The officer entered the property without permission to investigate a stolen vehicle. Neighbors all claim the dog was friendly. The dog survived.

October, 2007: An off-duty Omaha police officer shoots a Husky three times until the dog died. The dog was running loose but was not actually acting aggressively. The shooter was safe inside his home when his wife called stating she was frightened of a dog outside of her car (i.e. she was safe in her car). Instead of contacting animal control, the man immediately grabbed his gun and shot the dog three times.

I'm glad Omaha police are receiving training on how to handle dogs. I'm sorry it has taken 39 dead and wounded dogs to do just that.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, comes the report of an officer shooting and killing a dog.

Two officers were let into the home by children (is that even legal?) searching for a suspect no one at this home actually knew. They were warned that a dog was in the bathroom where Deanna Gonzales was taking a shower. When the officer opened up the door of the bathroom, s/he was bitten once on the wrist. Instead of closing the door, the dog was shot and killed when he (understandably) lunged again...all the while Gonzales was inches away showering.

In this report, the dog is called a pit bull.

But in another, the dog is labeled a Labrador Retriever - pit bull mix.

So, we have a case where officers didn't seek adult permission to enter a home, knew that a dog was secured in a bathroom, entered the bathroom anyways, shot a dog in the head when he freaked out and bit an intruder (dogs don't know cop from burglar) and then didn't have the foresight to shut the darn door. Fascinating.