Sadly, for all of you (us) canine lovers out there, we’ve published more than our share of stories about cops shooting dogs over the years. Whether it’s during a no-knock raid, a standard call or just a random encounter, pooches and police can be a volatile mix.
That’s not to say all cops are dog murderers. But from reading accounts from all over the country (and elsewhere), some officers of the law certainly seem to go for the gun rather quickly when encountering man’s best friend.
As Reason reports, the city of Detroit — which evidently has quite a history of this — is about to shell out a good amount of cash over three dead dogs that resulted from a warrant served while searching for weed.
The City of Detroit will pay out $60,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit by a woman who says police wantonly shot and killed her three dogs during a marijuana raid three years ago.
The plaintiff, Nikita Smith, claimed in a 2016 lawsuit that officers from Detroit’s Major Violators Unit acted as a “dog death squad” when they executed a narcotics search warrant on her house for a suspected marijuana offense, shooting three of her pit bulls, including one that was behind a closed bathroom door. Extremely graphic photos entered into evidence in the case show bullet holes riddling the outside of the door and the dog dead inside the bathroom.
Be warned: that last link is ugly. What was the result of the raid on Ms. Smith’s home?
Smith was arrested for marijuana possession, but the charges were later dropped when officers failed to appear in court.
Nice. Detroit’s vice cops seem to have a history of plugging pets.
The settlement is the latest in a string of costly payouts for Detroit due to dog shootings during drug raids. It also set new precedent in Fourth Amendment law. Detroit tried to argue that, since Smith’s dogs were unlicensed, in violation of Detroit’s municipal code, she had no legitimate property interest in them under the Fourth Amendment. The court rejected this argument.
Smith’s attorney, Chris Olson, calls the decision “a milestone in police-dog shooting cases that continue to plague the United States.
Reason reports that the unit that killed Smith’s pets shot 54 dogs in 2017. And one of the cops involved in the Smith incident has shot 80 dogs over the years.
The Reason story (read the whole thing) goes on to detail other six-figure settlements the city has paid as a result of a lot of dead dogs. The biggest tragedy, besides the loss of dearly loved pets, may be that the city’s taxpayers are the ones left holding the bag rather than the canicidal cops themselves.