SWAT

Code Enforcement Mania, Misused SWAT Teams, and Police Puppycide Converge in Unholy Trinity for St. Louis Family

Lawsuit says police killed dog after bursting into home-to check gas and electricity service.

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Confronting a terrorist cell? Nope. A home with missing roofing tiles.
Credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery / photo on flickr

A lawsuit filed against police in the St. Louis County in Missouri sounds like a hat trick of abusive law enforcement behavior. The allegations include the overzealous application of code enforcement, misuse of SWAT teams, and as the topper, the execution of a dog by police.

In short, Angela Zorich and her family in south St. Louis County allege that police used a SWAT team to execute a warrant whose purpose was apparently just to check to see whether their home had gas and electricity and immediately shot Kiya, their 4-year-old pit bull, after bursting into their home. The Riverfront Times in St. Louis documents the timeline of incidents that has the stench of both retaliation and using administrative warrants as a cover for some other form of search:

On April 25, 2014, St. Louis County Police officers came to her house. Her son cussed at them. They inspected the home's exterior and placed a "Problem Properties" sticker on the front window.

On April 28, Zorich called the police to follow up on the matter. An officer told her they were investigating the home for failing to have natural gas or electric service, as required by county ordinance. She admitted that the gas had been shut off, but said the claim about electricity was "bullshit." The officer hung up on her.

Zorich called back and spoke to a different officer. This one sounded angry that he'd been cussed at by her son three days earlier. Zorich tried to set up an inspection for a time when her husband would be home. The officer told her that was fine, but that the investigation would continue in the meantime.

The next day, around 12:41 p.m., Zorich was at home with several family members and her pit bull, Kiya, when a St. Louis County Police Tactical Response Unit burst through the door without knocking, according to her suit. The unit had at least five officers with M-4 rifles, supported by at least eight uniformed officers.

The officers entered so quickly, Zorich's suit alleges, that Kiya didn't even have time to bark. A tactical officer fired three shots into the dog, and the dog's "bladder and bowels released and she fell to the floor." The dog "was laying on the floor in her own waste and blood struggling to breathe. She had a gaping hole in her chest."

Zorich was then taken into custody and given a bunch of citations from the county's housing inspector over the condition of her home. She says that when she got home she found her beds overturned, closets searched, and stuff from shelves thrown on the floor. Then the county condemned the home.

The Riverfront Times asked for a copy of the incident report for the case and information on how frequently officers were attacked by dogs while executing warrants. They were told that it would take up to two weeks to get them the information.

If Zorich's claims are true, the whole situation sounds similar to what police in Orange County, Florida, were doing to barber shops down there. They brought in SWAT raids to perform extremely intrusive "administrative inspections." What they were clearly doing was trying to search for drugs without a warrant. They were rebuked by the feds in 2014. This is an issue going back for years though, and Radley Balko wrote about it back in 2010. Now at the Washington Post, Balko took note of this case as well as the trend of St. Louis County towns to try to extract money from residents via hardcore code enforcement citations

In this case, the police did have a warrant, but clearly not to search for drugs. There was obviously no need to bring in a SWAT team and burst into the home here, even if the family had a history of being problem tenants and were rude to police. It's not like they were going to try to flush their fuse box down the toilet to destroy the evidence.

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  1. You are free to hurt officers’ feelings, but they are also free to hurt your pet.

  2. Disgusting.

  3. I live close to STL and this makes me want a bunker to call my own. With electricity and gas used as defensive perimeter measures.
    I hope this never happens to me…shoot my dog and you won’t have to worry about a lawsuit. *straps on Rambo headband using tie from my work.

  4. Ow, my balls!

  5. Did the officers go home safely? Because that’s all that matters.

    1. Heroes. Did the HEROES go home safely.

  6. The headline was enough, should not have read the post. Now I’m legitimately upset at work. Fuck.

    1. It’s hard to read one of these without picturing your own pet dying on the floor in a pool of blood, isn’t it? You can’t even try to comfort it because you’re being put in cuffs….

      Empathy is tough at times.

      1. If only we were cops; then perhaps we wouldn’t be so burdened.

      2. Pet aside, this is legitimately abusive and smacks of feudal lords burning the homes of serfs in retaliation for resisting their rule.

        Every fucking one of those officers ought to be fired as a minimum and the judge should be tarred and feathered and run out on a rail.

        1. ^^^THIS x Infinity

        2. well, maybe the judge who signed the warrant was lied to, and thus not culpable. It has not yet gone to trial, and may not. Any judge half awake, and aware of recent “issues” will likely toss the “code violations” charge…. particularly as the coppers came and trashed the place THEN decided it was not habitable/ Wonder how many of these same coppers would come home to their own dwelling, trashed as they had done this home, and want to live in it. My guess, none would. Oh, but some pigs are more equal than other pigs. I forgot.. sorry……..

      3. Ha. Empathy? Turn in your libertarian card. We don’t have that.

  7. The unit had at least five officers with M-4 rifles, supported by at least eight uniformed officers….trend of St. Louis County towns to try to extract money from residents via hardcore code enforcement citations.

    I think I found some overhead the county could trim. Seriously, what kind of idiot thinks “Hey, these people are poor to the point of not having utilities. I bet we can steal some money from them. We should spend a bunch of money trying to do it.”

    I know, I know, it was more fytw. Still.

    1. I bet they were thinking something more like “Hey, these people are poor. I bet they’re selling drugs. Let’s use the utilities as a pretense to search their home for drugs (and kill their dog for fun).”

      1. The drugs are just a reason to take their money… what little they have left. If not for the money, most departments would care about drugs about as much as they care about jaywalking.

        1. They like drugs because those are easy cases to prove in court. Just holding up the bag guarantees a guilty verdict. Crimes with actual victims require actual work, and work is like hard and stuff. Busting into someone’s home, killing their dog, and trashing the place is easy (and fun). Not to mention there’s the natural high they get when they smash down doors with guns in hand. Even without the money they’d still focus on drugs because it’s easier and safer than going after burglars, murderers and rapists.

          1. Guys, it can be both.

    2. Sometimes it’s not about the money. Sometimes it’s just about making you respect their authoritah. Sometimes it’s about showing the peons who is boss by violating their homes and killing their pets.

      This is who goes into the job of “police”. This is who wants the job. So they can do this.

      Create a position of unaccountable power, and the worst possible people will gravitate to it.

      1. Yeah, I know. I haven’t post much recently. I needed a reminder to get back in the right frame of mind.

      2. Sometimes it’s not about the money. Sometimes it’s just about making you respect their authoritah. Sometimes it’s about showing the peons who is boss by violating their homes and killing their pets.

        Precisely, and you’d think this would be enough to make your average law-and-order cop fellator maybe reconsider things.

        I hope Rand Paul continues to pound conservatives over the head with stories like this one.

        1. Well, not having gas is a crime, isn’t it? So what do cop fellators have to feel bad about? These were criminals!

          1. I don’t even understand how this is a crime.

            1. Welcome to the world of bullshit housing codes.

      3. THE SON WAS RUDE TO OFFICERS!!! DEATH!!!!!

        /Police One

    3. It’s not about the money, it’s about the untermensch.

  8. I think we need a classification for something beyond a nut punch. I’d say heart break because… … damn.

    1. Kidney stone?

      My coworker has a history of them and according to him they have been clinically determined to be more painful than child birth?

      In our case, maybe we could refer to it as a copney stone?

      1. When you read about the history of kidney/bladder stone surgery, you realize that they must be horribly painful, otherwise people would never have gone through the horrific surgery they used to. Basically, you are strapped to a table with your legs in the air while a surgeon first puts a rod up your urethra to locate the stone, then cuts through your taint and into your bladder, then fishes around to get the stone out. (Apparently, in women they just cut through the vagina.) Without anesthesia, of course. And yet this was seen as preferable to keeping the stone, which tells you something about what it must have been like. Delightful pictures and descriptions:
        http://www.peashooter85.com/po…..iddle-ages
        http://thechirurgeonsapprentic…..n-pollard/

    2. Yep. Goddamn. The details of this, if true, are worse than usual.

  9. That’s ok, folks will pull their money from that horrid police company, and use a competitor.

    Oh wait, they are extorted and forced to fund the police against their will. On top of that they have qualified immunity. No wonder they are so violent and their excuse is FYTW!.

  10. Murdering dogs over code violation is just something we all do together, folks.

    1. Remember, Nicole: when we all do something together, no one is morally responsible for anything they do in the name of the collective! Isn’t that convenient?

  11. So these were 17 year old vandals masquerading as cops, right?

  12. OT Marco Rubio (and his wife) is a bad driver… Did I mention how happy I will be when this rag gets bought out.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/p…..ns/2232468

    1. Careless driving, a speeding ticket, and two failures to stop that were dismissed. That guy’s just an absolute monster.

      The lessons apparently did not stick. A year later, in 2010, she was stopped for driving 23 mph in a school zone where the speed limit was 15 mph She was fined $185.

      Oh, FFS. I hate school zones. The only time you should ever be stuck going 15 MPH is gridlock.

      The Rubios have spent more than $1,000 paying traffic penalties over the years, but after Marco Rubio was elected to the Senate in 2010 they took a different approach to handling their tickets.

      Marco Rubio hired Hanna, a Miami-based lawyer and donor, whose website sales pitch says, “Have you received a traffic ticket? Don’t pay it.” With Hanna’s help, Marco Rubio’s last two citations were dismissed and seven of Jeanette Rubio’s last eight were cleared.

      How dare those assholes push back against the wisdom of the state!

      1. This is like criticizing Romney for trying to reduce his tax bill. We all do it, you assholes, at least if we can afford to. It’s not as if this lawyer only works for politicians and influential figures.

  13. So we have a problem of government being too big AND a problem of too many governments.

  14. Zorich called back and spoke to a different officer. This one sounded angry that he’d been cussed at by her son three days earlier. Zorich tried to set up an inspection for a time when her husband would be home. The officer told her that was fine, but that the investigation would continue in the meantime.

    Wait, wait, we need to back up here. Since when do the police investigate your gas service? Is there a backstory here? For instance, did the gas company or city utility people send out a guy in a white, short-sleeved shirt and a clipboard, and couldn’t make headway?

    C’mon, Reason, tell me there’s some more backstory. Even in this day and age I have trouble believing that the first stop on the gas/electricity service railroad is the goddamned 1st Cavalry.

    1. No, the first stop on the Not-Being-Totally-Subservient-To-Cops railroad is having roided up goons kick down your door and shoot your dog.

    2. Ameren Electric and Laclede Gas don’t have their own SWAT teams, dontchaknow!

    3. Paul, Paul, Paul. You need to read more closely.

      An officer told her they were investigating the home for failing to have natural gas or electric service, as required by county ordinance.

      Required. Meaning “the law”. Meaning now they have an excuse to bring in the cavalry. Which we know they love to do.

      Obviously there’s also some grudge bullshit going on here too. Never, ever forget how petty people can be. And who gravitates to positions where you actually have opportunities to engage in petty revenges?

      1. I took that as being an explanation for the investigation itself, not the fact that armed agents of the state were doing it.

        Obviously there’s also some grudge bullshit going on here too. Never, ever forget how petty people can be. And who gravitates to positions where you actually have opportunities to engage in petty revenges?

        It’s St. Louis. Not exactly Mayberry. Surely the cops are used to the rabble showing them occasional disrespect. Did the son cussing at them really generate this much desire for retaliation?

        Tell me Angela Zorich used to date one of the cops.

        1. Surely the cops are used to the rabble showing them occasional disrespect.

          The cops I know ALL hate it. They NEVER get used to it, they merely tolerate it… until they snap.

          And they all snap.

        2. Paul,

          I found the following arrest information using the link Mr. Dean provided for us (if I read correctly, the different arrests for each individual happened on different days):

          Leora B Zorich PETTY LARCENY

          Zachariah Daniel Zorich ASSAULT 3RD DEGREE, BURGLARY 1ST DEG, EXCEED SPEED-55 MPH ZONE, STEAL PROP-SRVC UNDR 500

          Joseph Michael Zorich PEACE DIST-1ST OFFENSE

          Isaiah Solomon Zorich OPER VEH INTOX ALCOHOL, DEST OF PRIVATE PROPERTY

          Angela Tiffany Zorich FAIL TO REGISTER VEHICLE

          1. White trash family is put through the wringer for the crime of being white trash. Seems like this response is legit.

          2. Well, then the response was clearly not enough. Should have just burned the compound down with incindiary devices like they did those scofflaws in Waco!

            1. scofflaws in Waco?Pray tell, what laws did they violate to warrant their group incineration after being blockaded and quarantined for some weeks, then fired upon by heavy duty military weapons (of a sort you and I are unable to own)?

              1. You might want to recalibrate your sarcasm meter.

          3. Sounds like they’re a bunch of Clinton (Bill) voters.

  15. Elena Kagan would be perfectly ok with SWAT teams entering homes to inspect fridges when there’s hasn’t been any broccoli purchases in the last month.

  16. At least tell me the Zorich’s are black so someone other than Reason will take an interest in this!

    1. Almost certainly white.

      http://www.stlmugshots.com/search.php

      On the plus side, the comments on the Riverfront Times article are strongly anti-cop.

      1. I could spend hours on that site.

        1. it has comments and everything

    2. God damn shitty victims. It’s their own fault for not fitting neatly into the cultural marxist narrative.

  17. I feel safer already.

  18. Why do you have to have electricity AND gas service? Seems you could have all-electric heating, hot water, etc.

    1. Are you questioning the law, citizen? Smart people don’t question the law…

  19. In this case, the police did have a warrant

    For what? A code violation does not justify a search or arrest warrant, only a fine.

    1. But if you don’t pay the fine… you will be kidnapped. If you resist the kidnapping, as is your right, you can be killed.

      1. Sure, but there is at least a pretense of process, right?

        1. Hiding tyranny in “due process” makes the worst excesses of tyranny more costly to commit., certainly. But more generally I prefer my tyranny out in the open where everyone can see it and the court intellectuals can’t deny it exists.

  20. Maybe I’m imagining it, but it really seems like a disproportionate amount of abusive police stories come out of Missouri.

  21. Just because the gas was shut off for non-payment of the bill doesn’t mean they home did not have “service” as it was connected to the grid.
    By that reasoning, a landlord could be cited if he had service shut off every time a rental was empty between tenants.

    1. To heck with landlords.
      Sounds like a family, that couldn’t afford to pay the utility bill and gets it cut off, would be in violation and subject to additional fines or jail time.
      That doesn’t make sense.

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