Animal Law, Police

Police Better Off Accidentally Shooting Black People Than Family Dogs

You'll get in less trouble if you accidently shoot the one on the right.

I’m about to tell you a story. If the story included Chicago PD shooting an innocent black man who posed no threat to them, the story would end in an acquittal, vindication for the officers, and an outraged black community starting a charity fund for his widow.

But this story involves CPD shooting an innocent black Labrador Retriever. A family pet who posed no real threat to the officers. As such, the police have been punished and roundly excoriated, and a federal jury awarded the family a huge sum for damages.

Which is fine. I mean, I agree with the jury’s decision. I just don’t like living in a world where shooting my dog is a bigger liability risk for a police officer than shooting me….

The Chicago Tribune has the story (gavel bang: Huffington Post):

Teenage brothers Thomas and Darren Russell were in their second-floor apartment in the 9200 block of South Justine Street in February 2009 when officers announced they had a warrant to search both units of the two-flat. Thomas Russell, then 18, opened the door and found officers with their guns drawn, according to the lawsuit. Russell said that he put his hands in the air and asked permission to lock up his 9-year-old black Labrador, Lady, before they entered.

Police refused the request and came into the house, the lawsuit said. When Lady came loping around the corner with her tail wagging, Officer Richard Antonsen shot the dog, according to the suit, which alleged excessive force, false arrest and illegal seizure for taking the dog’s life.

A jury awarded the family $333,000 for their loss.

How does this play out if instead the story is: “When LeBrandon, a 5’10” dark-skinned black man wearing a wife-beater, came loping around the corner running his mouth, Officer I Am The Law put him down with two shots to the chest.”

Because the police say the same thing about innocent black people they shoot as they did in this case about the black lab:

Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department, said: “The officers involved in this case were executing a valid search warrant when this incident occurred and were simply protecting themselves. We are extremely disappointed and reviewing all of our options. In particular, we think the damages awarded to the plaintiffs were excessive.”

The difference is that nobody believes that the police need to respond with deadly force to protect themselves from random dogs, but lots of people think the police need to respond with deadly force to protect themselves from random unarmed black men. It’s BS.

But it is what it is. Do not mess with dogs. Our society loves dogs. Keep your guns pointed in the direction of less sympathetic targets.

Family gets $333,000 for 2009 raid in which cops killed dog [Chicago Tribune]
Police Kill Chicago Man’s Dog During Raid, Jury Awards Family $330,000 [Huffington Post]

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