Read this if your dog was shot during a police raid. The case of Santa Clara vs. Hells Angels ruled on in 2006 should be used as a reference tool, as the U.S. Supreme Court has set the standard individual jurisdictions need to go by.
I found some interesting information while doing research on this case.
Back in February 2006, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved a $990,000 settlement to pay motorcycle group Hells Angels for the death of three family dogs. The San Jose Police Department was also named in the suit. This came two months after the U.S. Supreme Court told the county that sheriff's deputies would be held responsible for liability and wouldn't be immune to the actions they took during a January 1998 raid.
At least 90 officers raided the club's San Jose headquarters, along with the private homes of nine members of Hells Angels, in an effort to obtain evidence on a member who was being held on murder charges in connection with a strip club murder that had occurred a year earlier.
The settlement was divided almost equally. The attorney received $530,000 and 15 people split the remaining $460,000. This included current Hells Angels members, former members, spouses, significant others and one friend of a member.
Santa Clara and Gilroy also assisted in the 1998 raids, and those cities settled their cases for less than $50,000.
The methods used in the raid, along with the shooting of three family guard dogs, could be used as a case reference in dogs shot by police in our time period. The police had planned the raids for over a week and didn't take into consideration how they would handle any dogs on the property. No other method was used in an attempt to restrain the dogs. These dogs were shot down in cold blood for defending their homes. This is very similar to what's taking place today.
Not only were the dogs killed when another method could have incapacitated them, but a lot of property was destroyed in the raid. Some Hells Angels property was held in evidence for over a year and was later determined to be unnecessary to the murder case.
Many police raids are planned out using procedures from in the 1990's. One major difference now is the number of large dogs now living indoors as a member of the family. It's not uncommon for police officers to raid a home in the middle of the night, breaking down the door and throwing either tear gas or flash grenades inside the home to distract the owner. It's usually about this time the family dog goes to work defending the home, at which point the dog is "rewarded" with one or more bullets while the owner is helpless. Several cases I've reported on have the dog owner begging the police to either not shoot their dog or to allow the dog to be put in another room.
Not only do police departments across the U.S. raid homes using whatever procedures they alone determine necessary, they also raid the wrong home. Or they trespass on private property(many times posted with "Beware of Dog" signs) and kill any dogs in their path. It's learned after the fact the police officer was at the wrong address.
So how can the lawsuit brought about by members of Hells Angels help those with dogs shot by police? There are two major factors here to consider before using this case as an example. First of all, did the police know a dog was on the premises before entering the home? If the answer is yes, and the family dog is shot, it suggests police were negligent in finding a non-lethal method to subdue the dog. Second, how long had the police department been planning to enter the home in an intrusive manner? A few days? A week? Long enough for a police department to come up with a safe method to secure any dogs on the premises.
There have been several cases recently of police throwing tear gas or flash grenades into the home prior to entering. Doesn't this act alone give a family dog a reason to attack? Police will argue that flash grenades or tear gas will scare a dog away. Have you ever watched a video made in the gassing room of an animal shelter that still uses this barbaric method to euthanize pets? Dogs go crazy when they can't breathe.
They also protest to sudden bright lights and loud noises. A dog may initially retreat in fear, then charge in the direction the grenade came from. A dog will also attack when an intruder enters territory the dog has been trained by the owner to protect. Police departments across the country are all crying out "we were afraid for our lives and had to defend ourselves." If this is the case, then these officers need training in how to subdue a family dog without having to kill it. Mailmen tend to accomplish this on a daily basis.
The U.S. Supreme Court has already shown how they feel about police shooting family dogs during a raid. They don't like it. I hope every owner of a dog shot by police will show this article to an attorney. If the highest court in the U.S. believes it's wrong for a police department to kill a family dog, perhaps it would be a good idea for every police officer to study the Hells Angel case as part of their training.
I'm tying in my previous story on police shooting dogs for revenge on the owners because these officers have already been on the dog's property and know the owner has a dog. So shouldn't these officers have made plans on what procedure to follow if the dog became aggressive? If the resident is seen outside playing with the dog several days before a raid, I believe the police should use a little common sense and know the resident has dogs. Police need another option other than shooting the dog before taking the resident into custody.
With all of the large settlements being awarded to dog owners whose family dog gave its life while defending its owner and property, hopefully police departments will wise up and train their personnel in non-violent methods.
Between U.S. Supreme Court verdicts and civil rights violation, the current practice by police of shoot the dog now and ask questions later must stop. Dog owners everywhere have made it clear we're not going to allow these cowardly acts to continue