Police Abuse

Cops Kill Family Dog In Front of 12-Year-Old Girl During Warrantless Backyard Search, Federal Court Orders Jury Trial

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In 2006 two police officers in Hartford, Connecticut, received a tip from a local gang member who said that illegal guns were being stashed in an abandoned Nissan Maxima parked in the backyard of a particular house. Although the informant never explained how he learned about this alleged hiding place, the officers wasted no time in acting on the information. They went straight to the house and straight into the backyard. They did not stop to get a search warrant first.

Upon arrival the officers found no Nissan and no guns. What they did find was a 3-year-old St. Bernard named Seven, who they proceeded to shoot and kill in front of the 12-year-old girl who was playing with her pet in the backyard at the time. According to that girl, she watched one of the officers shoot the dog in the head while it was lying wounded on the ground from two previous shots.

The girl's family filed suit over this warrantless home invasion, but a jury ruled for the police. The jury said the "exigent circumstances" exception to the Fourth Amendment permitted a warrantless search in this particular case.

Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit rejected that jury's holding and ordered a new trial for the offending officers. "There was simply insufficient evidence to warrant the application of the exigent circumstances exception here," the 2nd Circuit declared in Harris v. O'Hare. "Taken to its logical end, [the officers'] argument would permit exigent circumstances anytime there is a tip about illegal guns being located in a high-crime neighborhood or city, and would allow the exception to swallow the rule."

Editor's Note: This article originally misstated the age of the dog's young owner.

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  1. “Taken to its logical end, [the officers’] argument would permit exigent circumstances anytime there is a tip about illegal guns being located in a high-crime neighborhood or city, and would allow the exception to swallow the rule.”

    *stands to applaud the Court*

    1. No where did this say this was a high crime area. And guns don’t get up and walk away. They should have handled it with caution rather than like GI-Joes

      1. Yes. Why are the words “high-crime” in the court’s decision? Even if it happened to be a high-crime area, that “qualification” should not be mentioned in the decision.

  2. Regardless of the exigent circumstances factor, these cops have been fired for discharging a gun in the presence of a small child without cause, right?

    1. Ah, that old worry for the government worshipers:

      1. “Think of the children!”
      2. “At least the boys in blue made it home safely.”

      When the two come into conflict, which one must win? My bet is on the cops. That girl may turn out to be a libertarian when she grows up, after all. (They don’t understand that shooting the dog will make anyone hate govt actors.)

  3. The members of that jury should all have their pets murdered by the police.

    1. Or worse.

  4. So two gangmembers come into your backyard, guns drawn, while your daughter is in the backyard.

  5. The cops were pissed because the St Bernard didn’t have a little keg of alcohol around his neck for them.

    I have to wonder how depraved you have to be to kill a dog in front of its 7 year old owner while it lies wounded on the ground from your first attempts to kill it. Does someone like that get a boner as they think about how afraid the little child is of them? Do they get a thrill as they do violence to the pet of a powerless little girl?

    Of course they do. Fucking. Scum.

    1. Silver lining: another libertarian is created.

    2. It’s been said before; let’s say it again.

      Fuck the po-lice.

  6. Hey Dunphy, you want to come defend these fucking scumbags?

    1. You’re not on the front line. You can’t judge.

      1. I’m sure my calling him out is just further evidence of my bigotry towards cops or something.

      2. Maybe not. But, the Judge sure did.

        “There was simply insufficient evidence to warrant the application of the exigent circumstances exception here,”

    2. Dunply is one of those people that get wood when they shoot a dog. Viagra doesn’t work, it’s the only thing that does.

  7. Look, guys, this happened eight years ago. I am sure cops around the country have been given training to ensure this sort of thing never happens again.

    1. You are living with your head in the sand if you believe this.

      1. Re-calibrate your sarcasm meter?

      2. Check your sarcasm detector. I believe it could use a tune up.

  8. Jury intimidation, anyone? I really need to stop reading these kinds of stories….

  9. received a tip from a local gang member

    How much you want to bet it was a rival gang?

    1. He was on parole and had just been picked up for heroin possession. He made it up to try and save his own ass. And the cops bought it with no corroboration.

    2. More likely a pissed off neighbor that was watching as this guy was “swatted”.

      Exigent circumstance in this case was the pressing need for the cops to grandstand and, of course, SHOOT THE DOG.

      How did we get to this point? Why has the US become a prison for its mostly peaceful citizens?

      Thank God for technology! Eventually, there’ll be enough cameras to keep the cops in check. We will never get to the point that cameras will prevent crime and we should give that idea up.

      We just need to redefine about 2/3rds of the behavior considered illegal that allows the cops to break down our doors.

      That’ll get rid of most of the crime committed by individuals that aren’t cops.

  10. Holy crap, if I looked out the back window and saw two goons putting bullets into my dog while my 7 year old daughter was screaming her head off, I don’t even know if I would see what the goons were wearing.

    The arrogance of these cops. For people who claim to be scared shitless of everything, they sure do take stupid risks for nothing. There’s a lot of places where shooting in someone’s backyard will get you shot at.

    1. Holy crap, if I looked out the back window and saw two goons putting bullets into my dog while my 7 year old daughter was screaming her head off, I don’t even know if I would see what the goons were wearing.

      Absolutely.

      I know Reason chooses only the punchiest of nut punches for us, but these stories just…. I don’t know, maybe I just need to leave H&R for a while. Kill a dog in front of a little girl. Fucking monsters.

  11. After risking life and limb to commit puppycide in front of a minor, potential terrorist/drug dealer/libertarian, these two brave public heroes made home safely to their families, which is all that matters.

    /Verbatim quote from the police internal investigation report.

    1. The sad thing is I can’t tell if you’re kidding or not.

  12. You really have to question the reasoning ability of someone (times two) who has a specific tip, goes to that location, and finds that there is no “Toyota Maxima” in the back yard, only a girl and her dog.
    Do you immediately think: “Shit, we were played”; or do you say to yourself and your partner “Whoa, they must have buried it and left the girl and dog as sentries”?
    These two ‘rocket scientists’ should not be allowed to use mechanical objects, or decide whether to have regular or de-caf.

  13. What appears to be the very questionable antics of police officers in this case raises the most serious of questions regarding the role of legitimate police action v. the sometimes less than legitimate actions of police officers.

  14. This is why I have a hard time giving a shit when a cop stops a bullet.

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