Puppycide

Detroit Police Sued Yet Again for Shooting a Woman's Dogs During a Warrantless Search

The lawsuit claims two cops yanked a woman's door open, then shot her two dogs when they ran outside.

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Two Detroit police officers illegally pulled open a woman's door during a warrantless search and then shot her two dogs after they ran outside, killing one of the pets, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed this week.

The lawsuit, first reported by The Detroit News, claims two unnamed Detroit police officers, responding to a report of gunshots in the area, arrived at the home of Teresa Thomas on July 19, looking for a suspect. Thomas said that the suspect didn't live there and that she was alone in the house with her two dogs. She refused to allow the officers inside without a search warrant.

The lawsuit claims one of the officers then "pulled [Thomas] out of the house because she was holding the door shut at that time."

Thomas' two dogs, Tiny and Winter, "then went out the front door and around the corner to where their food bowls kept," the document continues. "Police officer Doe #2 shot both Tiny and Winter. Defendant Doe #1 laughed at Plaintiff as she tried to help her wounded animals."

Tiny died, and Winter was wounded by a bullet to the muzzle. The suit alleges that both the illegal search and the shooting of Thomas' dogs violated her Fourth Amendment rights.

The suit is the latest in a string of costly lawsuits against Detroit police for shooting dogs. Thomas' lawyer, Chris Olson, has represented several plaintiffs in similar suits against the Detroit Police Department. He says the incident is yet another case of poor training leading to a preventable shooting.

"This is an example of what not to do," Olson says. "This is an instance where the homeowner told them, 'Look, there's a dog here,' and they were trying to keep the dogs separate from the police. This particular officer opened the door. I have to believe if these officers were trained properly, they wouldn't have done that.

A 2016 Reason investigation found that Detroit police officers responded to hundreds of calls a year regarding loose and aggressive dogs, which are a serious problem in the city. This August, a loose pit bull killed a nine-year-old girl. But the investigation also revealed a disturbing pattern of Detroit police officers, especially on the narcotics squad, shooting family pets during drug raids and searches.

Earlier this year, Detroit agreed to pay $60,000 in another dog shooting lawsuit. That suit was brought by Nikita Smith, whose three dogs were shot by a Detroit narcotics unit during a marijuana raid in 2016.

Last year, Detroit paid $225,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Kenneth Savage and Ashley Franklin, who claimed Detroit police officers shot their three dogs while the animals were enclosed behind an 8-foot-tall fence—all so the officers could confiscate several potted marijuana plants in their backyard.

In 2015, the city approved a $100,000 settlement to a man after police shot his dog while it was securely chained to a fence.

The Detroit Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but The Detroit News reports that

the department said officers had been responding to a report of shots fired on Beals, near Thomas' home. 

Police said when they started an investigation there, two dogs ran in front of them. One charged at an officer, who fired two shots, striking both canines, according to the statement.

The Police Department said at the time that the incident would be investigated since it involved an officer using force.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering another lawsuit by two Detroit residents, Nicole Motyka and Joel Castro, who say narcotics officers raided their house in 2016 and shot two of their pit bulls, despite the dogs being behind a barrier in the kitchen. The officers found 26 marijuana plants inside, which shouldn't have been a surprise. Castro was a state-licensed medical marijuana caregiver. Marijuana charges against the couple were later dropped.

"I don't want anything to do with the Detroit police anymore," Motyka told Reason in 2016. "You grow up being taught these are the people you're supposed to trust, and then they come in and kill your family. I have no love for them. None. They probably sleep well at night. We don't."

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  1. Well at least the cops will pay damages out of their own pocket. Good deterrent!

  2. The second amendment covers claymore mines. Stock up.

    1. play more with claymore.

  3. “This is an example of what not to do,” Olson says. “This is an instance where the homeowner told them, ‘Look, there’s a dog here,’ and they were trying to keep the dogs separate from the police. This particular officer opened the door. I have to believe if these officers were trained properly, they wouldn’t have done that.

    Forget the dogs and forget the training, you can’t possibly believe that cops violating the 4th aren’t doing so willfully. When the homeowner tells you “not without a warrant” and you open the door anyway, no amount of training is going to fix that problem.

    1. I bet there’s been no Supreme Court ruling on that matter. Qualified Immunity!

      1. Beat to a punchline again.

  4. “This is an instance where the homeowner told them, ‘Look, there’s a dog here,’ and they were trying to keep the dogs separate from the police. This particular officer opened the door. I have to believe if these officers were trained properly, they wouldn’t have done that.”

    Lesson learned: When visited by the police, say ‘Look, there’s a dog here.’

    1. He says the incident is yet another case of poor training leading to a preventable shooting.

      I don’t think poor training is the problem.

      1. And WTF happened to Preview Button!?

        1. THAT went away months (if not years ago).

          My review is to compose a response in notepad or vedit, proofread, check the dictionary or encyclopedia,then get distracted by squirrels before hitting [Submit].

      2. “poor training” is lawyer speak for, “Look officers, we are going after the city, not you, so feel free to answer our questions in the most acceptable light, and we won’t sue you too.

      3. “Defendant Doe #1 laughed at Plaintiff as she tried to help her wounded animals.”

        Poor training isn’t the problem. Hiring psychopaths is the problem.

  5. If the dog runs, it’s a danger.

    If it stands still, it’s a well-disciplined danger.

    1. They shoot dogs that are running away from them or standing there wagging their tails. They just want to kill something. They don’t care what the circumstances are since they know they’ll get away with it.

    2. How can you kill women and children?

      Easy, just don’t lead them so much. Ain’t war hell?

  6. if i was Hulk these stories would be my trigger.

  7. Other than Reason who’s covering these stories? One special on Dateline would bring out the dog lovers and the politicians would be forced to address this shit.

  8. This hurts to say and think, but… if a cop shoots someone’s dog(s) without a certifiable, legal reason then the injured party gets to decide what will happen to any pets the cop might have. This includes, but is not limited to what is here, taking the pet as your own, sending the animal(s) to a shelter (for adoption by another, more empathetic, person) or even (this is the extremely hard part for any animal lover) have the pet(s) put down. If this last one is selected were to happen I would think that there will be a lot less shootings. The only other option I can think of is to do nothing – forgive the cop, mourn your loss, and try to move on (when the time comes I can only hope that this family adopts another pet from a shelter).

    1. Given how many stories we’ve seen of cops ‘forgetting’ their patrol dog in the car – for hours on hot days – until they die, I don’t think any cop with ‘pets’ is going to be all that broken up.

    2. So cops who don’t have pets are immune to harm, and we’re potentially legally executing innocent animals for its owner’s misconduct.

      Instead, how about punishing the cops for the criminal act of recklessly discharging a firearm, destroying personal property, and all the other things you’d get charged with if you shot a neighbor’s pet without cause?

      I’d also say that it is pretty much never a good idea to get into a shooting situation with police, but if someone bursts into your home and kills your pet, I would consider shooting back at them completely justifiable: anyone who would do this appears to be a dangerous, armed psychopath, and certainly if put on a jury I wouldn’t convict someone who, in such a situation, but a bullet between the eyes of one of these assholes.

      You have every reason to believe that armed people who would kill a pet and laugh about it are an immediate, deadly threat to humans as well.

      1. Dead dog, dead cop.

        THAT’S how you fix the problem.

    3. Um, the cop’s pets didn’t do anything and wouldn’t deserve any punishment. Being in the care of a sociopath is punishment enough.

  9. “I’ll drop my suit if I’m allowed to fire one shot – same caliber, same range – at each of those cops. Or an equal number of their superiors, I’m not fussy.”

  10. The scum bags in Detroit have been known to do this on purpose to inspire a pay day. This is a city where it’s common for pit bulls to maul adults and kids to death a few times a year.

    1. Detroit is also a city where it is common for people to kill adults and kids a few times a year. Does not justify shoot on sight in absence of imminent lethal threat.

  11. Qualified immunity HAS TO GO.

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