$250,000 jury award in dog shooting
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1999:
A federal jury in Richmond, California, on
December 30 ruled that Richmond police officers violated the
Fourth Amendment right against unwarranted search and seizure
by shooting an arthritic 11-year-old mixed breed dog named
Champ belonging to the James Fuller family in 1992, after
entering the Fuller yard, with guns drawn, in hot pursuit of a
fleeing suspect in an unrelated case. The jury awarded the
Fuller family $255,000 in costs and punitive damages.
The only comparable previous verdict in the A N IMAL
PEOPLE files was $5,000 awarded to Henry Blackwell
and his daughter LaShay by a Minneapolis jury in March 1998,
because police in 1995 shot their pet pit bull terrier Gippy as
many as 15 times while intervening in a neighborhood dispute.
Henry Blackwell’s son Henry Jr. reportedly tried to set the dog
on other parties to the dispute, but the dog hadn’t bitten anyone.
However, pet shootings by police are increasingly
often controversial––coinciding with a steep increase over the
past two years in reported dog bite injuries across both the U.S.
and Canada, suggesting police are increasingly likely to
encounter dangerous dogs.
The ANIMAL PEOPLE archives record only nine
controversial police shootings of pets from 1990 through 1996,
but 14 in 1997 followed by 34 in 1998. In other current cases:
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police narcotics squad
crashed into a birthday party attended by 13 children and six
adults on January 3 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. When a
pit bull named Kona bit a Mountie, a Mountie shot Kona,
allegedly splattering his remains over Christy Homan, who said
she was sitting beside Kona, feeding her two-week-old son
Zachary. The RCMP reportedly found both illegal drugs and
firearms on the premises.
Police officer Larry Jones, 40, of Fairfax County,
Virginia, was fined $500 on December 11 for shooting a cocker
spaniel he found in his yard after going off duty on September
22, 1998. Jones said he thought the dog might attack.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department i n
Lincolnton, North Carolina, in mid-November suspended three
officers, with pay, for shooting 33 dogs who resisted removal
from the home of a man who was placed in a nursing home.