Detroit Police Department Settles Another Dog Shooting Lawsuit After Video Contradicts Cop's Account

A 2016 Reason investigation found Detroit police have a nasty habit of shooting dogs during drug raids.


The city of Detroit has reportedly paid $75,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit after police shot a woman's dogs during a drug raid—a shooting the Detroit Police Department (DPD) determined was unjustified and violated department policy.

Detroit resident Kira Horne filed the lawsuit last December, alleging that a Detroit police officer, Nathan Miller, violated her civil rights by shooting her dogs without cause during a November 13, 2018, narcotics raid. This, she says, was an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

The settlement marks at least the fourth lawsuit payout in recent years stemming from Detroit drug raids where police have been accused of wantonly shooting dogs. A 2016 Reason investigation found that Detroit police officers respond to hundreds of calls a year regarding loose and aggressive dogs, which are a serious problem in the city. But the investigation also revealed a disturbing pattern of officers, especially on the narcotics squad, shooting pets during raids.

In most of those cases, there has been no video of the incidents, leading to dueling he said/she said claims between pet owners and police. But this time, body camera footage showed exactly what happened.

"As is typical in these cases, the officer falsely reported that the dogs attacked the police in order to justify the shooting," says Horne's attorney, Chris Olson. "Thus, this case is part of a pattern of Detroit police officers wrongfully shooting dogs and then lying about it. Fortunately, in this case, body camera footage showed the truth."

Warning: The video is graphic.

The body camera footage shows several members of the Detroit Police Department's Gang Intelligence unit executing a narcotics search warrant. As Miller enters a hallway while clearing the house, a black pit bull comes out of a room and advances toward Miller before he fires his shotgun at it, mortally wounding the animal. But the dog was neither growling nor barking.

A second pit bull enters the hallway. Miller yells at it, and the dog runs back into another room before emerging again and standing next to the corpse of the first dog. It is not barking, growling, or moving toward Miller when he fires at it.

"It's a fuckin' homicide scene," one of the other Detroit police officers remarks as he surveys the bloody aftermath.

The raid resulted in the arrest of one man for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

In a "destruction of animal" report that Miller filed after the raid, obtained by Reason through a public records request, the officer claimed that he "observed a black pit bull and a tan pit bull showing his teeth, charging, and attempting to bite crew." In a separate incident report, Miller embellished a little more, writing that "a large black pitfall came charging at me down the hallway from the northwest bedroom. I fired two shots…neutralizing the threat. While still in the hallway, a second brown pit bull came charging down the hallway towards me."

Miller's supervising officers, all the way up the chain of command, signed off on the shooting and found that he followed department policy. But after Horne and the arrested man filed a complaint, the Detroit Police Department's Citizen Complaint Subcommittee investigated the incident. After reviewing Miller's body cam footage, it found that the video "did not show the dogs acting in an aggressive manner."

"At no time did any of the dogs charge at the officers, growl or try to bite them," the subcommittee wrote in its report. In a rare occurrence, the police department declared that the shooting was unjustified and violated the department's policies regarding dogs.

Olson has represented several other Detroit residents who have sued the police after their dogs were shot. Detroit resident Teresa Thomas filed a federal civil rights lawsuit last year alleging that two Detroit police officers illegally pulled open her door during a warrantless search and then shot her two dogs after they ran outside, killing one of them.

Last 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.

In 2018, 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.

Destruction-of-animal reports obtained by Reason show that one officer on a Detroit Police Department unit that conducted drug raids throughout the city had shot 80 dogs over the course of his career.

"We will continue to seek justice for dog owners in Detroit," Olson says, "who suffer more shootings than anywhere else in the country, and to expose police officers lying about their unconstitutional conduct."

As regular readers of Reason know, police puppycide is far from limited to Detroit. Nor is Detroit the only city to find that the aftermath of an unjustified dog shooting can be costly. Last year St. Louis paid $775,000 to a woman whose dog was shot during a no-knock SWAT raid over an unpaid gas bill.

The Detroit Police Department and the Detroit Corporation Counsel, which represents the city in civil lawsuits, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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  1. So if the shooting was unjustified, where’s the punishment for discharging the firearm? Or are Detroit PD fine with their officers just firing their guns wherever and whenever they feel like it?

    1. “Or are Detroit PD fine with their officers just firing their guns wherever and whenever they feel like it?”

      Yes. Next question.

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  2. I could see by the look in it’s eyes, the yorkie was spun up on PCP. Had the bite strength of 100 German Shepherds.

    1. must be one of those super-predator yorkies

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  3. Destruction-of-animal reports obtained by Reason show that one officer on a Detroit Police Department unit that conducted drug raids throughout the city had shot 80 dogs over the course of his career.

    I’m guessing that guy’s a living legend to his fellow officers. To the rest of us, he’s just a sociopath.

    1. any body kills dogs for no reason aint human

  4. So there IS a need for common sense gun control.

    1. Yes, common sense gun control the way Charlton Heston defined it. And police don’t have it.

  5. Incompetent breaching.

    Incompetent panic.

    Can’t even shoot straight, takes how many shots to kill a dog ten feet away which isn’t even moving?

    Incompetence on display. What a bunch of fookin maroons.

    1. First dog I might buy idiocy.

      Second dog was terrorism.

      1. He was afraid that the second dog would want revenge for the death of the first dog.

        1. I have never in my 63 years referred to cops as pigs, but these cops can’t be called anything else. And why the hell does that one p.i.g. get away with killing 80 dogs? These men are psychotic barbarians.

          1. They are trained to be paranoid psychotic barbarians. The people doing the hiring want paranoid psychotic barbarians.

    2. ” takes how many shots to kill a dog ten feet away which isn’t even moving?”

      Three and he’s using a shot gun.

  6. So other than the fine, what about punishments for all the supervisors who signed off on the falsified reports?

    So the taxpayers are paying off other taxpayers for the police bad behavior and the actual bad actors and all the enablers covering up their actions face zero consequence.

    And then people can’t seem to understand why so many people want to de fund the police.

    Reforming the existing system is impossible. If you cant hold any of the cops who do these things and the cover them up accountable, then there is no way to reform the existing system

    1. Shh! We aren’t supposed to know about that part. Just ignore all the supposedly good cops actively enabling the bad actors.

  7. In addition to the unjustified shooting of two dogs, the officer should be fired for writing a false police report. Dishonest cops should not be tolerated at all. We found a “bad apple” cop, now lets get rid of him.

    1. I’d prefer it if we put the officer down like the dangerous animal it is.

      1. Publicly.

        1. It’s a shame we can’t put him down for each dog he’s shot over the years.

        2. I’ll settle for locking him in a cage and tossing the cage down in the deepest ocean trench.

  8. What’s important is none of the officers were disciplined and continue their duties on the force.

    1. ^^This^^

  9. Goddamn Republicans, amirite?

  10. Really wish I had not watched the video. Fuck these evil pieces of shit. These assholes should not be cops in fact they should not have the liberty to interact with other human beings in any context. Quarantine these motherfuckers until they die of starvation. Or better still lock them in a cell with 10 rabid pit bulls.

  11. So the Officer doing the shooting lies and then “the Rot that Goes to the top” supports his story all the way.
    Little wonder so many of the public dont’ believe the police.

    And hey! ,this is how they kill Dogs….it’s just dogs…and they are lying and the city pays the lawsuits.
    If they are going to lie about dogs….are they going to tell the truth about killing people? I think we know the answer folks

    1. And they wonder why people with brains don’t trust the police.

    2. Every police report of something I witnessed was total fiction. They use boilerplate language like “Dog was growing and baring its teeth” or “He clenched his fists and took a fighting stance” because it absolves them and gets convictions. Judges know it. Prosecutors know it. Defense lawyers know it. It’s not a secret to anyone in the system.

    3. Don’t forget, your dog is just a dog.

      If you kill a police dog, it’s murder…

  12. This propensity to shoot dogs is dangerous to the police and the homeowners. If someone breaks into my house and shoots my dog, my first instinct is going to shoot back at the shooter. I’m not going to stop and ask, “How did you feel before you killed my baby?” My dogs are not vicious but they are my babies.

    1. That is exactly why cops shoot dogs. To be cruel and to provoke.

      1. ^^This^^
        The war on drugs is state sponsored terror.

  13. Cop goes out on raid. Cop makes sworn report. Cop LIES on report. Top brass MUST have seen his bodycam tapes, yet they sign off on his LIES, making FALSE report that killing is justified. Later review of video PROVES cop lied., which is perjury.
    Cop MUST be fired for cause, and charged with HIS crime.

    ONLY THEN will this sort of gabage stop. We do NOT need to “defund” police.We DO need to police them.

    1. Need to establish a citizen review process. Appoint or elect one person as chair/modrerator, he has no vote. Bring in six individuals, selected like jurors are. When an incident needs reviews (all police involved shootings, and other “serious” incidents, including all where someone dies.

      Each juror reviews the bodycam footage, privately, no communication, and writes out his report on what happened. Then they all view it together. THEN they read the copper’s report. IF the copper makes any materially false statments on his report, as proven by the video stream, the jury renders a bill to try. The case then goes before a regular criminal court, the copper in the dock for his perjury and whatever other offense he committed.. in this case, unlawful use of fiream (he was not in danger), desruction of personal property without cause, AND his perjury in filling out the report. Since some of these charges are felonies, off duty no pay, and no guns, until a verdict is rendered by the regular court

      It wont take but one, maybe two in a REALLY vorrupt town like this one, case where an officer is convicted of multipel felony counts for his bad behavour and subsequent lying on it. Such bad behaviour will all but disappear for two reasons: one, those doing it will no longer be cops. Two, those TEMPTED to do it will hve sufficient evidence in hand to make informed decisions to NOT do those kids of things, lest they suffer the same nasty fate as their last fellow cop who lied and got his life ruined.

    2. You missed “Top brass MUST be fired and charged with aiding/abetting and perjury” for signing off on the false report.

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  16. Why do democrats hate dogs so much?

    1. Because dogs are racist Republicans (dogs hate cats).

    2. Dogs defend property rights.

      There’s also a lot to do with power dyanmic in that democrats would rather serve a cat that doesn’t give a shit about them than share authority with a dog that does.

      Also, there’s a bit of selection bias going on. Dogs are targets more compatible with democrats’ firearm skills.

      1. So having to take a stinky animal outside to take a shit every day, an animal that gets separation anxiety if you leave it alone, that needs regular bathing, isn’t serving?

        1. I suggested dogs are easier to dominate and harder to subjugate yourself to. I didn’t say it was impossible. It’s not mine or the dogs fault you only think of them as house pets.

          1. I don’t know what that word salad means. And they say I’m a drunk.

    3. Democrats? It is the Republicans that have blocked police reform bills.

      1. There are a number of racist Trump lovers in the comment section who believe the purist form of libertarianism is the proto-facism of the Tea Party.

        You can see how few comments this article has received compared to an article about state violence against someone or a group of people disliked by our President. Those articles have hundreds of comments lustily circle-jerking about how much said person or group deserved it while also denouncing Reason.com for becoming a liberal shit-hole or something to that effect. Engaging them is not worthwhile if you want to have a debate, you will be labeled a commie for disagreeing with anything they say.

  17. Were I a defense attorney in the Detroit area, I’d be examining every single one of Officer Miller’s cases very closely, given his prediliction for lying on his reports.

  18. The officer(s?) should be dismissed even just for knowingly making false statements in their report. And I assume the reports are made under the penalty of perjury — in which case the officer(s) should be doing some jail time.

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  20. Nowhere in this article did was there anything about what the races of the dog-killing cop and the dog owner. How am I supposed to know how outraged I need to be?

  21. Gun control is the root cause here.

    The leos should fear the humans, not the dogs. The fact that they dont fear the humans is the core problem.

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