We live in a world where George Zimmerman is still walking around free, still carrying his gun, and thus still available to shoot other black teens that he might find “suspicious.”
But I bet if Zimmerman had shot somebody’s dog he’d have already been sued.
Last summer, I wrote about Thomas and Darren Russell, brothers who had their Labrador retriever shot dead by the police who came to search their house. An Illinois jury awarded them $333,000 for their loss.
Well, the price for shooting a dog is going up, while the consequence for shooting an unarmed black teen remains the same as it ever was…
In Maryland, the cost of shooting a family dog is even more than it is in Illinois. From the Frederick News Post:
A Frederick County Circuit Court jury in the civil case filed by a Taneytown couple whose dog was shot by a sheriff’s deputy found in favor of the plaintiffs Monday evening.
The six-person panel deliberated for more than 4 1/2 hours before returning a verdict to award Roger and Sandi Jenkins $620,000 in damages, according to plaintiff’s attorney Rebekah Lusk.
They found that–Deputy First Class Timothy Brooks violated the Jenkinses rights under the Maryland constitution when he shot their chocolate Labrador retriever, Brandi, on Jan. 9, 2010, while he and Deputy First Class Nathan Rector were at their Bullfrog Road home looking for their son, who was wanted on a civil warrant called a body attachment.
Don’t get me wrong, I think these jury awards are appropriate. I don’t think cops should be allowed to shoot family pets first and apologize later.
I just think that same restraint should apply to black people walking along the streets. I think if the police (or anybody else) mistakenly blow away a black person who posed no threat to them, there should be a significant penalty. Just like the jury didn’t need to hear about Brandi-the-dog’s house training setbacks to figure out if the police acted reasonably on the day in question, I don’t think whether or not a black kid has been suspended from school years ago should have a lot to do with whether or not he should have been shot to death.
I’m happy to see justice for chocolate labs. I just hope we don’t stop there.
$620,000 in damages for dog shooting [Frederick News Post]