In a wild twist of events, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on Monday that police officers can kill citizens’ pets without answering for it even if those pets are not showing any signs of aggression towards them.
Mark and Cheryl Brown from Battle Creek, Michigan filed a lawsuit against the Battle Creek Police Department, the City of Battle Creek, and Officers Jeffrey Case, Christof Klein, and Damon Young for killing their two family dogs. The plaintiffs presented their appeal in front of judges Moore and Clay from the Sixth Circuit and Hood, a District judge.
The unfortunate event took place on 17th of April, 2013 in the Brown residence while the police officers were trying to execute a search warrant after a police informant claimed that a man named Vincent Jones was selling drugs (heroine, cocaine and marijuana) from their home. The suspect, Vincent Jones, was apprehended before the police officers arrived on the scene.
In the meantime, Mark Brown, the owner and not a suspect in the case, was home on his lunch break from work with the intention to let out his two pit bulls, after which he locked the door and headed back to work. At that time the police arrived at the address and detained Brown telling him that they needed to search the house. Mark explicitly told the officers that he had a key and he’d let them in, but the police destroyed the door anyway to gain access to the house.
The police claimed that the two dogs were barking at them, a claim which was disputed by the Browns. Mark Brown even testified that the smaller pit bull has “never barked a day in her life”, while one of the officers, Klein, said the larger dog was barking and “lunged” at him, a statement he later recanted, admitting the dog “had only moved a few inches”.
Even though the dogs never attacked them nor tried to do so, Klein fired a round with his gun towards them. The loud noise scared both dogs so they ran and hid in the basement, obviously out of fear. The officers pursued them down in the basement where they shot them on site. The officers claim that they couldn’t execute the search warrant and clear the room effectively with the two dogs being there.
Moreover, the officers stated the “basement was loaded. You’ve gotta look under beds, you’ve gotta do everything, and [the dogs] basically prevented us from doing that, and they were protecting that basement.” Officer Klein even testified that the smaller pit bull was “just standing there” when they shot and killed it.
Even though the officers admitted the pets were just standing there, showing no sign of aggression, the appellate court ruled in favor of the police department, the officers, and the other defendants. Their ruling just confirmed the lower court’s ruling that the police officers were covered under “doctrine of qualified immunity” and were hence not accountable for compensating the plaintiffs.
And a new precedent is set, the police can now officially shoot and kill your dog for just being a dog. If it moves an inch, if it barks if it does anything a normal dog does, it’s dead. As we saw from the case above, even if it just sits in the corner of a room, they can kill it and not be liable for it. Can you believe it?