Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Collateral Damage

When cops shoot dogs, human injuries can be collateral damage.

According to a Palm Bay Police Department spokeswoman, a pit bull "aggressively came at" Officer Bob Rama, who was assisting an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families.  The bullet struck a house, knocking off debris, and injuring a visitor.  The dog was taken away by Animal Services and Officer Rama was placed on leave pending an investigation.

In addition, on Sunday, two police officers in Pekin, Illinois were called to a scene where two humans were trapped by three large dogs who had escaped from a garage.  An officer's bullet grazed one dog's paw, ricocheted off a parks SUV, splintered, and hit his partner in the face.  The officer was able to return to work the next day and the dogs have been returned to their guardians, who were away on vacation.  In the future, the dogs may be require dot be tethered and muzzled when their guardians are gone.

Of course, officer have a right to defend themselves if they are really attacked, but these stories highlight the dangers of introducing gunfire into a situation.  Was there really no less violent response available?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cop in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico) allegedly shoots terrier named Canela

The Juarez cop shot the small dog for barking at him.  Canela died hours later from a hip wound.  The Juarez police chief is investigating the incident.

APRODEA (AsociaciĆ³n Pro Defensa Animal, A.C.) is asking for an explanation and there is an online petition demanding justice.

Canela's last moments:

Off-duty Sheriff's deputy kills beloved neighborhood dog

Last Thursday, an off-duty cop in Dayton, Texas allegedly shot and killed Fred, a neighborhood black lab.  The deputy claimed that Fred nipped a his heels while he was riding his bike.

Fred's 13 year old human companion says she will miss most "him always being there when I'm alone and stuff."

North Las Vegas cop kills dog after being bitten

A North Las Vegas cop shot and killed a dog yesterday morning.  The dog allegedly attacked the officer, who was pursuing the dog's person.  The man was fleeing the scene of a fight, in which he was a suspect.

As Radley Balko points out, it will be difficult to say whether there was misconduct here unless we get more information.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"She was probably trying to play with you"

On February 11, 2010, a Columbia, Missouri SWAT team shot a family's pit bull and corgi in front of a small child while aggressively serving a search warrant on their home.  In a video of the raid, the distressed home owner can be heard saying "What the fuck did you shoot my dog for?  That was a good dog.  She was probably trying to play with you."

The pit bull was killed, but the corgi, who was shot in the paw, made it.

After sitting on their warrant for eight days, the cops found only a misdemeanor amount of weed.  As long as we keep sending SWAT teams to serve search warrants on small time dealers, the casualties will keep piling up.

Callous sheriff's deputy threatens to shoot man's dog

A sheriff's deputy in Alameda County (home to Oakland and Berkeley) threatened to shoot Jason Rivera's dog unless he consented to a warrantless search of his home.

"We can do this the easy way and you can take us to your house to look around," Rivera recounts the deputy saying, "or we can detain you for six hours while we get a warrant and go to your house and shoot your dog."

Alameda sheriffs threaten to kill paraplegic man's dog in marijuana raid

Mr. Rivera is a paraplegic medical marijuana user.  The officers' warrant gave them permission to search the man's recording studio, but not his home. 

The Fourth Amendment protects us from "unreasonable searches and seizures."  However, in United States v. Mendenhall, the Supreme Court ruled that the cops may detain a person for questioning and ask to search her belongings without  a warrant as long as a "reasonable person" in her place would have felt free to leave and/or refuse the search.  The decision opened the floodgates to waves of police misconduct and abusive searches by failing to recognize the coercive power inherent in one's status as a police officer.  Would a "reasonable person" feel free to decline a search after a cop threatened to shoot her dog?

HT Radley Balko