Puppycide

Cops Tell Mom Her Son Was Murdered, Kill Her Dog for Good Measure

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Dog
Rubio campero

Note: This incident is apparently a year old, despite being dated July 23, 2013 on the newspaper site.

Police in Henrico County, Virginia, found 33-year-old Ricky Ellerbe dead (as originally noted by Mike Riggs), the apparent victim of a robbery that netted a cellphone and fifteen bucks. Officers then went to his home to deliver the bad news — and promptly killed the family dog. Really. This despite a growing awareness that police interactions with family pets are extremely problematic, a movement to pass laws to train police in better animal-management techniques, and official guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice cautioning that a majority of Americans view their dogs as members of the family.

From the News & Advance:

Henrico investigators swarmed the area with forensics technicians and tracking dogs, but no arrest had been reported Wednesday night. Ellerbe was one of five children; a brother, Gary, died in 2010 from a heart attack, three years after he'd been repeatedly stabbed.

And in a horrific turn of events, a Henrico police officer shot and killed the Ellerbe family pitbull, Tiger, as it charged toward the officer off its leash.

The unidentified officer and a detective had arrived at the home to notify family members that Ellerbe had been killed. His body was discovered shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday, face down near an alley.

The pitbull ran from the backyard of the home toward at least one officer, who pulled his weapon and shot the dog in the home's front yard, according to Ellerbe's sister, Latoya.

"They had told me my brother was dead and I'd come out back to cry on the porch and Tiger must have heard them. He ran into the front yard and the officer shot him," LaToya Ellerbe said.

For anybody who knows dogs (that's not the actual Ellerbe family dog in the photo, FYI), it's not at all unusual for them to run "from the backyard of the home toward" a stranger they've just discovered on their turf. That's natural behavior, not necessarily threatening, and generally really easy to deal with when the owner is standing right there.

Police departments generally respond to these incidents by insisting that officers felt threatened, but as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes:

Policies that require only that an officer "feel" threatened set a very low threshold for justifying the killing of dogs. In virtually all cases we have examined, internal reviews of dog shootings have ruled them to be justifiable under existing policies, even though several cases have resulted in substantial civil judgments against police departments for wrongful destruction. Such incidents not only jeopardize the lives of companion animals, but also undermine the reputation of law enforcement agencies in the community.

The ASPCA urges training for law-enforcement officers to teach them a "force continuum" policy for interacting with animals that doesn't require the automatic discharge of a firearm.

The national problem of police encounters with dogs elicited a formal report from the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services last summer. The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters emphasized that "[a] recent poll revealed that approximately 53.5 percent of owners consider their dogs family members, another 45.1 percent view them as companions or pets, and less than 1.5 percent consider them mere property."The report offered helpful tips for identifying canine body language, and then went on to echo the ASPCA:

Shooting a dog should always be the option of last resort. The safety of fellow officers and bystanders is put at risk in such situations, and when a law enforcement officer shoots a dog that does not constitute a serious threat, community trust is eroded and the department is opened to potential lawsuits and other legal action.

It's difficult to imagine a worse public relations fiasco for a police department, pet-wise, than to enter private property to deliver horrifying news about the loss of a family member, and then to create a brand-new horrifying situation by killing another family member.

In response to incidents like this, Colorado recently mandated training for police officers in better ways of managing encounters with dogs. Forth Worth, Texas, adopted similar training after public outrage over a shooting.

On a side note, it's statistically amazing how many of the dogs shot by police officers turn out to be "pit bulls" — especially since research shows that the breeds usually identified as "pit bulls" are not especially aggressive or unmanageable. According to the the American Temperament Test Society, a national non-profit organization that uses uniform standards for evaluating the temperament of dogs and then breaks the results out by breed, 86.8 percent of American Pit Bull Terriers and 84.5 percent of American Staffordshire Terriers have passed the organization's temperament tests. Compare that to 80 percent of Beagles and 80.3 percent of Collies (but 90.8 percent of Irish setters!). So-called "pit bulls" tend to rank in the middle of the pack.

Yeah, maybe police are running into passels of poorly trained or abused pit bulls, especially since they're the scary dogs of the moment and popular among people seeking out more of a weapon than a pet. Or maybe cops are just taking advantage of that reputation to resort to a default label for every dog they shoot under embarrassing circumstances.

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  1. The main point the ASPCA makes is a good one: we give police officers a lot of latitude, and they turn around and abuse the shit out of it. That serves to erode the foundation upon which civil society sits, and it’s the fault of these dickholes.

    1. If you give anyone a lot of latitude, inevitably those who would abuse it will gravitate to the position and…abuse it. It is human nature. Which is why no one should be given a lot of latitude, especially if their position gives them power over others.

      Eternal vigilance and all that.

      1. This is so very true. People aren’t stupid. They know that the police are given so much deference in society, that it attracts those who thrive off that deference.

        That fired officer in yesterday’s Auburn, AL thread was spot on. The job now attracts the bullies, because the non-bully cops don’t want the job anymore.

        1. the non-bully cops are put ou of a job. there is in government, low demand for people who aren’t total dickheads.

    2. we give police officers a lot of latitude, and they turn around and abuse the shit out of it.

      What are you? Some kind of anarchist?

      /says everyone who doesn’t read this site.

      Face it, cops could kill small children every day, in every city, and you’d still have the trained seals clapping for those brave boys in blue, keeping us safe from the crackhead hordes.

      1. that’s some funny shit I don’t care who you are!

  2. Holy shit, I thought that was a joke.

    I really need to quit reading anything news related.

    1. it is a joke this and the pres. and all the retarded shit you see politicians pullin the hunger the poverty !! Its all a joke. just watch Ol’ Johnny Carson to see how long this and these jokes has been getting laughs.

      1. I heard the economy is gotten so bad now the Drug lords are gonna have to lay off a few DEA. and the Mafia a few judges.

  3. On a side note, it’s statistically amazing how many of the dogs shot by police officers turn out to be “pit bulls” ? especially since research shows that the breeds usually identified as “pit bulls” are not especially aggressive or unmanageable.

    It’s also a function of the Journalist/Law Enforcement guide to Pitbull Identification.

    1. That last one looks really dangerous.

      A buddy of mine got into it with officials over the breed of his dog. The city he lives in requires $100,000 personal liability insurance for each dog that you own that is a “bully breed”. Someone from the local government saw his dogs in their yard and insisted that they were pit bulls even though they weren’t. They didn’t even look like pit bulls. They are lab mixes. The city sent him a notice that he had to prove that he had the required insurance, which he didn’t. He took photos of them down to city hall and argued with them, the still insisted they were pit bulls. He had a DNA test done, definitely not even a pit bull mix. They didn’t care, the visual identification of the dogs as pit bulls was all the proof they cared about. So now my buddy has a shit ton of insurance that he doesn’t need.

      1. Rule #1: Government idiots are always right.

        Rule #2: When government idiots are wrong, refer to Rule #1.

      2. The city he lives in requires $100,000 personal liability insurance for each dog that you own that is a “bully breed”.

        Where do they come up with these ideas?! I would not even have thought of something so asinine, but every time that happens… some city is already out there doing it.

        1. Yeah, there’s a push in Tucson to “do something” about pits. The campus idiots, I’m sure, are behind it. Since me and my pit posse don’t actually live in the city limits, they can’t get to me, but I still support their opposition.

      3. Never underestimate the government’s ability to yadda yadda…

      4. He should sue, and not spend a dime on a lawyer.
        All you need is the pics, the DNA test, and the written word of the law and you ought to be able to win.

        Well, in a sane world, anyway. Still worth a shot as long as you don’t spend money on a lawyer

    2. Its the same process that gives us criminals carrying ‘machine guns’ or ‘high-powered rifles’ and cops with ‘tanks’.

  4. In the days of Egyptian greatness when Pharoah passed into the land of shadows he was accompanied by his servants, great hoards of gold and other treasure, and his hunting animals, hound and falcon.

    It’s pretty obvious that this cop decided to send Mr. Ellerbe to the great beyond with his faithful pet for company.

    Nothing to see here citizens.

  5. You know who else viewed his dog as a member of the family?

    1. Leona Helmsly?

    2. Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne?

    3. Me.

      1. Schottzie for the win!

        Rad

    4. No, sillies, Hitler!

      Props for the Marge Schott answer.

  6. For anybody who knows dogs (that’s not the actual Ellerbe family dog in the photo, FYI), it’s not at all unusual for them to run “from the backyard of the home toward” a stranger they’ve just discovered on their turf.

    And for most dogs, this isn’t even a defensive act. They’re just excited beyond belief that a new friend has showed up to pet them.

    1. And for most cops, this isn’t even a defensive act. They’re just excited beyond belief that they’ve got an excuse to kill a pet and make the owner cry.

      1. sarcasmic for the win!

      2. ARF!

  7. Carry on, nothing to see here. The cop was just trying to explain the concept of “dead” to the mother, who couldn’t believe the initial news.

    1. But Scooby finishes a close second!

      A hearty well done to both contestants!

  8. a movement to pass laws to train police in better animal-management techniques

    Nobody ever trained me not to shoot first!

  9. And if an ordinary private citizen shoots a police dog because he feels threatened…

    1. Hell, if you shoot any dog because you feel threatened, prepare to get fucked up the ass by the police. DC recently arrested a guy who shot some dogs who were in the process of mauling a kid.

      And the police officer who showed up and finished off the dogs by shooting them probably got a medal.

    2. Not to mention shooting your neighbor. The standard, “Policies that require only that an officer “feel” threatened set a very low threshold for justifying the killing of dogs.” seems to be similar to the Florida law setting a minimal standard for shooting a person.

      1. There is no such law. The standard for self-defense in Florida, as in everywhere else, is that a reasonable person would fear imminent serious injury or death.

      2. Yes I have killed all my neighbors under this law. Then I sued the cops for having the balls to question my use of force. Now I have the whole street to myself and a large cash settlement to enjoy.

        /derp!

  10. You know what’s fucked? Hikers are expected to carry bear spray to deal with charging grizzlies but these shitbag cops can’t even deploy pepper spray on a damn dog. Give me a break.

    They just love shooting and killing things.

    1. Bear spray is actually more effective at stopping a grizzly attack than almost any handgun. That’s why it is recommended over a firearm for bear protection.

      I agree though, even the meanest toughest dog around is gonna tuck tail and run after getting a whiff of pepper spray.

    2. Shooting a bear generally just leads to a more pissed off bear.

  11. The dog wanted Cleveland Browns…..

    1. to be pallbearers at his funeral…

  12. I don’t know why this story has popped up now. It actually happened in July 2012. I know Reason loves these stories, but still….

    1. Probably because the source article says July 2013


      Posted: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 10:54 am | Updated: 10:55 am, Tue Jul 23, 2013

      1. Yes, but the source date seems to be wrong. I didn’t see anything in it that indicated it was a followup with new information.

  13. Thanks for the fucking nut-punch J.D.

  14. The thing that seems wierd to me is that the kind of people who become cops are, in my imagination, also more likely to be “dog people”. Hence, the average cop ought to be pretty aware of what to do if you’re at someone’s house and the dog runs up. I can sort of understand why, if you’re swat-raiding someone’s hosue the family dog might try to bite your leg off. But in this case, the cops should have been treated as guests so there was really no reason to shoot the dog other than idiocy or sadism.

    1. idiocy or sadism

      That about covers it.

  15. “…Such incidents not only jeopardize the lives of companion animals, but also undermine the reputation of law enforcement agencies in the community…”

    Is that even possible anymore? Undermining the reputation of law enforcement?

    1. Can’t undermine something that doesn’t exist.

  16. Also, I don’t really consider my cat a “family member”. She’s more like a wierd acquaintance I have the does funny things for my entertainment.

    1. If you’re like most owners, you work to get away from your cat.

  17. Meanwhile in New York state, as of Nov 1, 2013 the killing of an on-duty police dog will be a felony offense.

    http://www.cbs6albany.com/news…..9845.shtml

    1. Unless a fellow officer leaves the dog unattended in a hot car.

      1. That’s because the officer killed the dog. See rule #1: If Officer kills dog, GOTO ::JUSTIFIED.

  18. You guys keep forgetting totality of the circumstances. And something about surfing.

  19. Give this cop credit. At least he wasn’t fucking a 12-year old girl.

    1. I’m surprised this is even an issue. The badge lickers will give him a pass.

  20. To be honest it’s hard to get angry at this without actually having been there. Was the dog simply running toward the officers or was it growling as well? Also, this BS about pitbulls being no more dangerous than other breeds is just nonsense. I work with dogs for a living. While it’s true that pits can be very loving, affectionate creatures, the simple fact remains that when they attack, they are capable of doing a lot more damage in a short space of time than other breeds. Pitbulls and rottweilers are responsible for by far and away more human deaths than any other breed. And the idea that cops could “handle these situations better” is debatable. When a fully trained animal handler is sent to deal with a dangerous dog, first of all they are equipped with a catchpole (long stick with hoop on the end) and secondly, they are often accompanied by an armed officer who is ready to shoot should something go wrong. If you want officers to carry catchpoles on the job with them then what can I say….

    Fact is, the sight of a pitbull running towards you is enough to frighten anyone. If an owner has a dog that is liable to charge visitors then it’s their responsibility to keep their dog restrained. What would have happened if a child had come into the yard and the dog charged it?

    1. Fact is, the sight of a pitbull running towards you is enough to frighten anyone.

      So fucking what. The cop could have retreated based on his “fright”.

      If an owner has a dog that is liable to charge visitors then it’s their responsibility to keep their dog restrained.

      Define “liable”. And unless this dog had personally been known to charge visitors, the cop had no business making the assumption that the dog meant him harm.

      What would have happened if a child had come into the yard and the dog charged it?

      Is the child made of straw…like the argument you’re making?

    2. The sight of a pit bull running towards me would not frighten me, because I’m a grown-ass man facing off against an animal who is half my weight, probably less, and I’m not a pussy.

      If the dog is actually planning to attack (which it probably isn’t, because most animals aren’t fucking psychotic and don’t immediately attack everything they see), then that’s why sweet baby jeezus gave you fists and shoes.

      Fact is, these guys are well armed and they’re shooting these dogs to death. Either they’re genuinely frightened, in which case I’d hate to see how they react to any kind of real pressure, or they’re sadists/sociopaths and killing is nothing to them.

      Also, do a Google search on the most violent dog breed. Actually, don’t: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…..-dogs.html

      Just because it hurts when a dog bites you doesn’t mean that its breed is inherently bad.

      1. dude, no that’s stupid, don’t say stupid things.

        While cops are dicks and have shot dogs for little reason and with litle attempt at alternative methods of dealing with the dog, a PIT BULL RUNNING at you is definitely no joke. That will reasonably scare anyone seriously.
        Yeah, half your weight, probably won’t kill you, but if he gets a hold of your fingers/hand, that could be the end of your ability to work for the rest of your life. If he gets a hold of your foot, you might never be able to jog again.

        What they ought to do is be trained to unholster their billy club, use that and loudly instruct the owner that the dog will be quickly killed if the owner can’t stop him. A sort of one-chance sort of thing. And the billy club ought to be able to help keep a dog at bay a lot, if it turns out he is atacking.

    3. How do realtors, delivery personnel, meter readers and other non-cops deal with aggressive dogs? Somehow they manage not to shoot them.

      1. “Somehow they manage not to shoot them.

        For one thing, you need brains to sell real estate, deliver goods to the right address or read a meter.

        For another, they don’t expect people to “Respect Their Athoritah” or need to demonstrate that they have power.

  21. Or, it may be that LEOs are just cowardly pussies.

  22. Canine profiling.

      1. Wearing a hoodie.

  23. Someone needs to keep a national casualty toll of all the family dogs needlessly killed by police officers.

    1. I believe someone has, and I think the figure was around 250,000 dogs a year.

    2. Ok, an officer trying to train other officers to NOT shoot dogs ‘claims’ that 250,000 dogs are shot a year, ‘most of them needlessly’. So I don’t know where that number is sourced:

      Osorio, a former cop, tells them there are dogs in about one in three households ? nearly 80 million in all. He says officers shoot about 250,000 dogs a year… often needlessly.

      http://www.khou.com/news/texas-news/175775621.html

      1. that member of the bigorati doesn’t know the totality of the circs. and the due process afforded these fine officers clears them of their wrongdoing.

        hth

  24. I’m to the point where I advocate requiring a double orchiectomy on all active law enforcement as a condition of employment. You want a badge and a gun, give up your balls.

  25. As someone who has worked in peoples’ homes for many years, I can affirm that there are many, many poorly trained or abused dogs of all breeds whose owners are clueless as to their danger to strangers.?

  26. pussies with a badge don’t need more tax funded “training” those types need tax funded accountability real conduct accountability. Not suspended with pay bullshit. Don’t annoy the cop new York cause you will lose rights it is a felony now these assholes can just make up crimes you commit, oh wait they already do that! What is pathetic is when exposed nothing happens to irresponsible or corrupt conduct. Justice is in the eye of the demented, but true justice and fate will atone for these disrespectors of effective compassion and application of correction.

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