Drug Policy

Another Isolated Incident (Dead Dog Bonus!)

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This kind of thing almost never happens:

An Accokeek couple is demanding an apology after Prince George's County Sheriff's Deputies burst into their home and killed their dog—all because deputies went to the wrong address.

Pam and Frank Myers were tucked away in their home Friday night watching a movie when the warrant squad pounced.

[…]

They wouldn't let me go to the bathroom which is like seven feet down the hall," said Frank Myers.

"it was terrifying. I can't sit on my couch at night any more. I'm looking over my shoulder the whole time," said Pam Myers.

The Myers say the deputies knew immediately they had raided the wrong home. They say it could have ended with an apology, until the couple heard two shots from the yard.

"And I said, 'You just shot my dog," said Pam Myers, through tears. "I just wanted to go out and hold her a bit. They wouldn't even let me go out."

The couple's five-year-old boxer Pearl was killed. The deputy says he feared for his life. They say the dog would bark but was no danger to the deputies.

The house the elite, well-trained, highly professional police unit was looking for was two doors down.

Map of botched raids here (now, unfortunately, about three-dozen incidents out of date). List of dogs shot during drug raids here. "Government Goons Murder Puppies!" rant here.

NEXT: Long-Arming the Libel Tourist

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  1. I have one question. When will the country reach its last straw? Enough already!

  2. Seriously. They didn’t even give that dog a fighting chance.

  3. zig zag man-

    When they start plugging middle aged white guys with bullets on sight. That’s when. While its still merely canines, black people, or unsavory sorts, no dice. Till then, lots of luck with the rabble-rousing, but I think Survivor or Bachelor or some other TV circus just came on and your message doesn’t matter anymore…what were you asking?

  4. I’m sure “libertarian” Giuliani will put an end to these raids? Right Dondi?

    Aw forget it, things like smoking bans are more important.

  5. Elemenope,

    I don’t know, I think if they start pumping lead into 20-year-old blonde white women, that might cause some trouble too.

  6. I’m always amused at people who think this shit never happens to white people.

    Sorry E, been there, done that, seen it.

  7. Check out the Cato link included in the blog article. I’m glad someone is starting to keep track of these incidences. I’m sure there are a zillion more.

    I’d been planning to put something like that together myself. Oh well…

  8. Cesar,

    Don’t forget he lowered taxes 23 times…a number only 18 less than the number of rounds fired into Ahmadou Diallo.

  9. TWC,

    You have to admit, those people weren’t exactly the most attractive victims possible. The dog was ugly too.

  10. The deputy says he feared for his life.

    This line is used so often, I wonder if Police forces have to issue all officers Depends so they won’t wet themselves every time they leave the station.

  11. jj

    Radley’s been tracking this for years. I’m pretty sure the map on the Cato website is his.

    This is not going to change until somebody who is very politically connected gets hit.

  12. Ugly dog, yes, didn’t see the people because I have the worst ISP on the planet and the vid won’t play.

    Then again, Bull dogs are all ugly, but they are harmless.

    fokkin’ dog weenie cops.

  13. TWC –

    Of course white folks sometimes get plugged too. That’s why I through in the disclaimer about unsavory characters. The fact remains that the police abuse primarily those people without means and with some quality (race, gender, orientation, age, etc.) that makes them by that quality alone unsympathetic first to the media and then to the people at large. The public goes through the motions when Amadou Diallo or Cornel Young, Jr. get blown away, but nothing changes. And Young was a cop for crissakes!

    I’m middle aged white guy, and I’ve gotten pulled over and even had my car searched. It sucked (what an inconvenience!) but it paled in comparison to the time I was a passenger in car that had a black driver that got pulled over and tossed. The difference in the ways he and I were treated were utterly night and day.

  14. Unless the 20 yr old white chick was on Ecstasy. Then, you know, all bets are off; she was a skank drug user and had it coming. Obviously.

  15. Elemenope, thanks for the reality check.

  16. Well, E, there is merit to the argument that those at the margins suffer from the wrath of the state. I’ll buy that.

    I’ve had dope planted on me by the Secret Service, so I’m a little cynical.

  17. Well, E, there is merit to the argument that those at the margins suffer from the wrath of the state. I’ll buy that. It’s just that there is a pretty good cross section of folks at the margins. And, they ain’t all black.

    That’s what I really meant to say except that other comment was already posted. Oh, it happened allright, but it’s better not to talk like that because most folks will call you a liar and those who don’t will think you’re grandstanding.

  18. She don’t have to be a skank, just skinny.

  19. True enough. The margins are wide, frayed, and all-too-well populated by people of various melanin concentrations and vaguely shifty eyes. 😉

    Dare I ask. dope-dropped by the SS? Were you trying to go to a politician’s rally, or was it a frame-up for counterfeiting? (What else does the Secret Service do?)

    You know, I remember back in the day when I read about the Praetorian Guard and I remember thinking how odd it was how similar they are to the Secret Service…and considering how badly that arrangement worked out for most of the Roman emperors whether it is truly wise to basically duplicate the same set-up.

  20. Used to have dog named Shamus. Pure bred German Shepard. Great dog. Hated cops. Bad. That’s cuz he used to belong to druggie and everytime they hassled his master they abused the dog, or at least tranq’ed him and he’d end up as a police hold.

    This particular time Mike was hammered and stoned and pulled off to sleep it off. The cops dragged him out and beat the hell out of him (white guy) and locked him up (charges eventually dropped). You shoulda seen what he looked like when he made bail. The dog went to lock up on a police hold but I thought they were going to put him down (the three day rule) so I bailed the dog out.

    Later Mike went away for a while so he gave me the dog. That was a hell of a dog.

  21. The deputy says he feared for his life.

    Is that irony?

  22. Hmph, the guy they were looking for lived two doors down, yet they still apprehended him after the commotion, discharge of firearms and killing of family dogs all over the fucking street. Clearly, surprise was not a completely necessary element for the serving if said warrant.

    Dipshits.

  23. E, long story, comedy of errors. I didn’t mean to crash the barricade at the Nixon compound in San Clemente, my brakes were for crap and I was showing off for my friends on the street. Hey, lookit, rev rev, oh shit, barricades, where did they come from, slam on the brakes, nothing, crash, SS all over me like flies on you-know-what, guns to my temple, joints appear on the floor, me thinking, dude, that’s a felony, SS guy saying he’s a druggie, arrest him, me, well, I was pretty effen scared. If it wasn’t for an old time San Clemente police sergeant with sense, I’d be a known felon. Anyone who says the SS is professional is full of it. Those guys panicked like rank amateurs. The small town cops were the ones with sense. BTW, there’s guys you know and respect who can vouch, cuz they were there. Okay, they didn’t see the plant, but they saw the crash.

  24. Don’t forget he lowered taxes 23 times…a number only 18 less than the number of rounds fired into Ahmadou Diallo.

    crimethink – It’s Giuliani Time!

  25. Jesus, TWC, that story’s like something out of Fritz the Cat or those old Freak Brothers comics.

  26. When they start plugging middle aged white guys with bullets on sight. That’s when. While its still merely canines, black people, or unsavory sorts, no dice. Till then, lots of luck with the rabble-rousing, but I think Survivor or Bachelor or some other TV circus just came on and your message doesn’t matter anymore…what were you asking?

    Obviously you’ve never heard of Sal Culosi.

  27. Well, that’s quite a mess there TWC. That’s one for the grandkids. 😉 At least it all got sorted.

    John-David: well, shit, thanks for blowing all my optimism away. Maybe… they need to shoot five year olds. That surely will get the masses roiling with bilious rage…or maybe I’m just grasping at straws here. It occurs to me that the only revolution in which the participants were well-fed was the American one. And that seems to be a seriously WTF fluke as far as history goes. So long as there are bread-and-circuses coupled with the 50 hour workweek, I don’t think anything will shake the hold of the immediate need-want-would be nice checklist over the minds of my fellow Americans.

  28. TWC – “story” was a poor choice of words on my part – I don’t doubt your veracity, but I could really something like that happening in one of the aforementioned comics, if only because it happened at the Nixon compound.

    As for the “when will they wake up” theme, I think it’s slowly happening, but it will take awhile for people (white people, anyway) to wake up to the fact that many, many cops out there are not Officer Friendly material. The fact is, most people in the country are not hassled by the cops on a daily basis, and if people don’t see it happening to them, it’s easier to discount.

    At the risk of having to turn in my decoder ring, for a long time I thought the incidence of police brutality was being somewhat overstated for political effect. That’s one of the reasons I really appreciate Balko’s columns on the matter, even though I’d started to wake up prior to reading any of his work.

    I think it’s going to take daily or nightly TV news, Internet news, print news stories to get people to see. It’s going to have to remain in the public eye in a way that it hasn’t been. It’s going to take more people in the media connecting the dots between all the “isolated incidents”.

  29. I like how the guy in the tactical armor, helmet, and Storm Trooper-boots, who is armed with a large and presumably powerful firearm, assures us with a straight face that he was intimidated by a dog. So intimidated, in fact, that he had to kill it.

    Right. I do hope he’s fired and the rest of the wrong address-getting officers disciplined in some way, but I’m not holding my breath.

  30. A dog is a weapon. The officer was being menaced. Obviously. Otherwise the owner would have had the dog’s teeth removed. Why would anyone keep a dog with teeth unless they intend to harm cops?

  31. Solution: Keep your dog’s teeth stored in a locked cabinet, and you won’t have a problem. Anyway, sooner or later that dog would have bitten a child – you know how children love to play with loaded dogs.

  32. M is clearly a shill for Big Dog.

  33. I wonder how many warrants were served in the U.S. this year, and how many of those went bad, and of those, how many dogs were shot. A tiny percentage? Statistically insignificant? I’m as much against the war on drugs and the militarization of the police as anyone, and I hold no grudges against dogs in general and boxers in particular, but it’s hard to get worked up over a mistake. The over-the-top comments here are entertaining. I’ll give Radley credit: he knows how to pull the puppets’ strings.

  34. ed,

    I’ll try my best not to call you a fucking idiot.

    Just look at the reason topic page on the Militarization of Police and tell me how this can be insignificant.

    Even if it’s 1% of cases, or even .1%, it’s still a number of innocent people harmed (sometimes killed) for no good reason.

    There’s a big difference between getting “worked up over a mistake” and getting worked up over a systematic problem that is killing or injuring innocent people.

    Fucking Idiot.

  35. I like how the guy in the tactical armor, helmet, and Storm Trooper-boots, who is armed with a large and presumably powerful firearm, assures us with a straight face that he was intimidated by a dog. So intimidated, in fact, that he had to kill it.

    Eventually, one of these tough guys is going to shoot a pug or a kitten and say that he feared for his life.

  36. Ed,

    Suppose you’re sitting in your living room, watching TV. All of sudden, a flash grenade goes off, there are men with guns screaming at you, the handcuff you, interrogate you, rip apart your house looking for drugs, and shoot your family dog.

    As it happens, you’re not who they were looking for. Indeed, you’ve never broken the law. Would you be willing to accept “Hey, everybody makes mistakes” as an explanation?

  37. I wonder when I read these things about the application of the concepts of “extreme emotional disturbance” or “temporary legal insanity” to such cases.

    After all, if you shoot enough family pets, eventually a child is going to try to defend the pet. Does the deputy then shoot the child? And, if he does, and the homeowner hulks out, gets a weapon and kills all the cops, is it murder? I think I’d nullify, reasoning to myself that the homeowner was temporarily legally insane, even if his attorneys never raised that defense.

  38. Fluffy,

    The cops would in turn shoot the parents, claim the parents shot the child, and probably get a medal of valor or some shit.

    It’s really simple. You and I are not part of the protected class, and therefore not subject to the same privileges as said class, namely, killing us Helots when and where they choose…

  39. All they want is an apology and they can’t even get one!?

    If police had done that to me and killed my dog I wouldn’t be acting rationally. I’ll just leave it at that.

  40. Crap! I thought that bounty hunter guy was involved in this.

    Mr. Balko, you have tricked me again!

  41. ed,

    You are using the wrong denominator. The denominator isnt warrants, its no-knock warrants. The great, great majority of warrants are served pleasantly, with a knock on the door. If they knock on the wrong, the neighbor redirects them to the right location or at least shows them they have the wrong place.

    Its no-knocks where the problem comes in. There is no error correction process. Eliminate no-knocks and this stuff truly would become isolated incidents.

  42. Not enough blue ballons.

  43. Not enough blue ballons.

    No kidding.

  44. At the risk of having to turn in my decoder ring, for a long time I thought the incidence of police brutality was being somewhat overstated for political effect.

    I’m getting this from David Simon’s book “Homicide”; prior to the war on drugs police brutality was quite common, especially in black neighborhoods. But as bad as it was, the brutality lasted ten minutes to a few hours and it was over – ten minutes of getting clubbed and kicked and maybe a few hours for being booked and then the victim was back home. Now the victim is put into a system of brutality that lasts years and the cops are only the first wave followed by over-the-top fines, prosecutions, and prison terms.

  45. Goddamn the dog-killing thing pisses me off. I’m fucking phobic of large dogs – being attacked by wolves at the age of four will do that to you – and I can still make the intellectual distinction between a barking dog and one that might actually attack me. What excuse do these cowards have?

  46. Ed, I dont know you. I shouldn’t make assumptions about you. But have you never gotten worked up over a mistake? For example, say the airline screws up your reservation & you sit in a terminal 12 hours? I dont know about you, but I spend a goodly portion of those hours hours angry + thinking of ways to improve the reservation software or concocting a better system to compensate customers for such mistakes or whatever. I’ll admit it: I get frustrated when poor planning (or moronic driving) sticks me in a 45 min traffic jam. Hell, I get peeved when I’m overcharged by a merchant or if there’s a $90 mistake on my credit card bill. Obviously, I’m self-centered and I have issues. Perhaps you’ve mastered the zen of pure reason and, in your sangfroid, you remain calm, relaxed, and reticent despite life’s systemic vicissitudes. If so, I salute you.

    But if not, please give me a fucking break. They are murderering lots of innocent dogs. They have killed children. The problem is getting worse not better. It’s not hard for me to get worked up when my goverment’s agents (whom I pay and who represent me) unlawfully kill — even by mistake.

  47. “I wonder if Police forces have to issue all officers Depends so they won’t wet themselves every time they leave the station.”

    ….or run across a killer puppy or kitten.

  48. I’m as much against the war on drugs and the militarization of the police as anyone, and I hold no grudges against dogs in general and boxers in particular, but it’s hard to get worked up over a mistake.

    Once is a mistake. Not correcting the system (routine no-knock “tumultuous” entry) that keeps producing such mistakes is criminal negligence.

    Suppose the warrant squad had simply knocked on the door and said, “Mr. Jones, we have a warrant for your arrest.” Frank Myers could have responded, “I’m not Jones, he lives two doors down.” Following an examination of ID, the cops could have apologized sincerely, then proceeded to do their duty.

    After all, if you shoot enough family pets, eventually a child is going to try to defend the pet. Does the deputy then shoot the child? And, if he does, and the homeowner hulks out, gets a weapon and kills all the cops, is it murder? I think I’d nullify, reasoning to myself that the homeowner was temporarily legally insane, even if his attorneys never raised that defense.

    “Temporarily legally insane?” I’d let the parent off because he acted perfectly rationally.

  49. …but it’s hard to get worked up over a mistake.

    Sure, until it happens to you or someone you know.

    There is no such thing as a statistically insignificant percentage of things like raiding the wrong address or killing innocent people’s dogs. Every incident is significant. Whether or not it points to a larger trend is up for debate, but every incident such as this is cause for great concern.

  50. Tommy_Grand,

    Yeasterday ed also cautioned us to use zen like restraint when facing the issue of people that were convicted using discredited FBI bullet fragment analysis – he actually argued that we should consider a reverse statute of limitations for potentially falsely imprisoned inmates and offer them no recourse.

    He’s that zen.

  51. LarryA –

    Historically the concept of temporary legal insanity was used as a way to allow juries to let people off for killings that were considered the result of appropriate levels of anger [for example, the defense was applied to situations where a husband caught his wife in bed with another man, and killed the other man] – but no one wanted to CALL it that, so they came up with this alternate concept.

    So I was basically just trying to wedge “He needed killin’…” into a more acceptable legal framework.

  52. The Sheriff’s Department says it’s investigating what went wrong.

    [Firing up my crystal ball and peering intently into the future] Everybody involved will be cleared of any wrongdoing. Some officers may get some time off with pay during the investigation. Procedural change will be window dressiong at best.

    Y’know I wish I could get the gig doing these type investigations.

    Well Joe, we found nothing wrong with the investigation or execution leading up to these events. Mary, type up the usual, and put Friday’s date on it. Joe and I will come in and sign it then.

    It’s Miller Time.

  53. Mr. Balko,

    Is there a book in progress regarding all botched raids you’ve accounted for? I’d like to see something like that hit the book stores.

  54. …aptly titled, “Don’t move, or I’ll blow your f***ing head off!”

  55. …aptly titled, “Don’t move, or I’ll blow your f***ing head off!”

    Well, only because “Buy This Magazine or We’ll Kill This Dog” has already been used.

  56. This pattern of “mistakes” would stop if police departments were held liable and damages awarded to the innocent victims came out of police budgets. If it would mean giving up their job perks, you can bet your ass the police would start double-checking addresses and not storming into buildings unless it was absolutely necessary.

  57. If some goon with a badge murdered my dog like that, I’d find said cop’s name and address, and, well, I’ll just leave it at that.

  58. (Dead Dog Bonus!)

    Um, everybody drink? We sure could use some A.M. ale…

  59. Are there any statistics out there on how often the pizza delivery guy or UPS or the phone company show up at the wrong address? Are cops more or less competant at finding addresses than 17-year-old kids delivering pizzas? Worse than FedEx but better than the cable company?

  60. Jesus, TWC, that story’s like something out of Fritz the Cat or those old Freak Brothers comics.

    Baked, yeah, it’s kinda funny now but I have never been that scared.

    Starin’ straight down a .44 regards, TWC

  61. The fact is, most people in the country are not hassled by the cops on a daily basis, and if people don’t see it happening to them, it’s easier to discount.

    Absolutely. I know all kinds of people who have never seen anyone but Officer Friendly. I personally haven’t been hassled by the cops in decades.

    Now the victim is put into a system of brutality that lasts years and the cops are only the first wave followed by over-the-top fines, prosecutions, and prison terms.

    Excellent point. For instance, when I was young if you got busted by the cops for not having car insurance you had to buy some and then mail proof to the court and you were done. Now, they impound your car, arrest you, fine you, and make you buy insurance for the car you don’t own anymore because you can’t get it out of impound because the bill is more than you net in a week at your crummy job. Then they take your license too. And since you’re marginal in the first place it’s hard to get across town without a car to make the court appearance so you get nailed with a failure to appear warrant and when they pick you up the bail’s a couple thousand. Now you’re really screwed, but the judge will let you make payments but you still have to buy the insurance policy that is specially designed for those who don’t own a car and that doesn’t really insure anything. And five days after the judge OR’s you, LA County jail cuts you loose at two in the morning in the middle of the worst part of South Central LA, which you know they do just to fuck with you because you’re just a scrawny white chick that looks like a sketcher so you deserve it anyway.

    [takes a deep breath]

  62. Quiet Reader Girl, Oh I think your on to something, except i think each individual cop should have to pay right out of their salary.

  63. Mr. Balko,

    Is there any data about the number of police KIA by dogs per annum? Maybe it happens often and I just don’t hear about it. It would hardly be the first time I was ignorant + uninformed. But if not, how can the officer reasonably fear for his life?

  64. I wonder….Is the war on some drugs being conducted in the same way as the war in Iraq? I’ll bet there are just as many “isolated incidents” there as here. If it is, then that could be a reason for the insurgency. At least the Iraqis get to keep AK-47 (for protection from armed armor wearing thugs no doubt).

    Where’s my AK-47? Why are our freedoms going to Iraq?

  65. The wrong address thing bothers me too. It demonstrates an ignorance of geography and a lack of familiarity with the area. This leads me to believe that there was little to no investigation leading up the the rubber stamped no knock warrant, which was executed like keystone cops with armor and automatic weapons. Inept and scary.

  66. Seriously, these guys have less of an understanding of the whole address system than a fucking mail carrier. And the postman isn’t packing HK-5s and body armor, so at least when he hits the wrong house, the worst thing that happens is – you give your neighbor their mail.

    Funny thing, the unprotected postman would only mace the dog, and I doubt he “fears for” his life. Any cop that is on this type of detail should be doing administrative work if a boxer is going to prevent him from functioning responsibly.

  67. Tommy asked “Is there any data about the number of police KIA by dogs per annum? Maybe it happens often and I just don’t hear about it.”

    There has NEVER been a case of a police officer killed by a dog, although there are three cases of police K-9 dogs killing people (two working K-9s and one off duty K-9).

    How quickly the public forgets the case of the Prince George’s County K-9 dog sent into a home of a suspected burglary (later determined NOT to be a burglary) and of the K-9 attacking a sleeping woman and fracturing her skull.

    Police officers and deputies shoot family pets with shocking regularity in this country, with all these cops using the exact same line “I feared for my life.”

  68. If cops raid my house and I kill a few of them I will be sure to look into the camera and say “I feared for my life.”

    The difference is that I will not be lying.

  69. “Where’s the dog?”

    We don’t have one.

    “I guess a cat’ll have to do, then.”

    We don’t have a cat. We do have a bird.

    “Aw, those are so hard to shoot!”

  70. Robert

    Maybe they have a bunny. (See the “Mascara” thread above.)

    If the cops have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they’ll know how vicious those hoppers can be.

  71. Am reminded of my favourite line in ‘Lord Of The Flies’

    ‘KILL THE PIG, KILL THE PIG!”

  72. Funny thing, the unprotected postman would only mace the dog, and I doubt he “fears for” his life.

    My “unprotected postman” brother walked a route for a while, and he carried a gun. Had to pull it a few times on a very mean dog. Her pet was even worse. He settled the situation by forgetting to deliver her mail. Never had to actually kill the dog. Or her pet.

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