A Kendall County grand jury on Monday declined to indict Deleon in the May 21 arrow attack on a cat named Bobby. Deleon was charged with animal cruelty in the off-duty incident.
Defense attorney David Parent says Deleon was trying to scare the cat out of his garden and never meant to shoot the arrow into the pet.
On April 14, 2012, Michael Paxton was walking the grounds of his Austin, Texas, property. Paxton noticed a police officer in the driveway of his house—gun drawn. The officer was investigating a domestic disturbance call, and Paxton, much to his surprise, was a person of interest.
The situation was already tense, when, suddenly, Paxton’s Australian cattle dog Cisco came bounding around the corner from the backyard to see what the commotion was—barking when he saw the officer.
Paxton immediately recognized the danger, and begged the officer not to shoot his dog. Despite Paxton’s pleas, the officer fired—killing Cisco before his owner’s eyes.
Law enforcement agencies across America have no universal training in regard to dogs.
Moments after the shooting, a tragic reality set in. The officer had responded to the wrong house. The domestic disturbance was next door.
Nearly 40 percent of all American households have a dog. Given those odds, it seems rather obvious that law enforcement officers are forced to deal with household pets over the course of their daily patrols, drug busts and traffic stops. Like the incident that took Cisco’s life, many of these encounters are violent.
A 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS Office (Office of Community Oriented Policing Services) on dog-related incidents with police found that more than half of all the shots fired by law enforcement officers in California between 2000 to 2005 were aimed at dogs. There’s no shortage of tragic evidence of these encounters on YouTube. Google them at your own peril.
Fans of comedian Dave Chappelle’s The Chappelle Show probably remember the actor’s infamous “Law N Order” sketch. In Chappelle’s bizaro-universe, a white corporate criminal receives the same treatment from law enforcement as a black drug dealer. When arresting the corporate thief, the first thing officers do is shoot the man’s harmless golden retriever, splattering dog blood over the man’s wife.
The scene played for big laughs, but you couldn’t help but detect the anger behind the writing. Though there are no statistics to back the hunch, given Chappelle’s keen eye for racial hypocrisy, the inference is that poor and minority households have been dealing with the killing of their pets by law enforcement officers for quite some time.
As any post officer worker can tell you, dogs do present a genuine threat to civil servants in the community. There are more than 3,000 dog attacks on U.S. Postal Service mail carriers each year.
“We’re not anti-dog,” says USPS spokesman Rich Maher. “But anyone who enters a property, is a stranger to [the dog] and a threat to the property.”
Recognizing the danger, the USPS has developed a national set of training procedures to deal with dogs. USPS carriers are all equipped with pepper spray and are trained how to use it in case of a dog attack.
Law enforcement agencies across America, however, have no such universal training in regard to dogs. For instance, according to its policy manual, the Austin Police Department is authorized to use deadly force on an animal if it presents an “imminent threat to the safety of an officer or others.”
Of course all dogs have the potential to bite. Is that threat sufficient to be considered imminent? The manual offers no further guidelines.
Strangely, though animal activists are sympathetic to the issue, it remains largely under their radars.
“There are currently no official campaigns underway nor are we currently actively pushing for a set of uniform standards,” Humane Society spokesperson Nicole Ianni tells TakePart. “We do support the idea of a national accreditation system for SWAT officers that would make the killing of dogs a ‘last resort.’ ”
Two city police officers are being sued on a claim that they shot a family dog in front of its 12-year-old owner after entering the backyard of her Enfield Street residence without a warrant.
Police claimed that a snarling St. Bernard charged at them when they went into the yard to investigate a report that guns were stashed in a vehicle there.
A jury trial is scheduled to begin Monday before Judge Robert N. Chatigny in U.S. District Court in Hartford.
Glen Harris, who is listed as the minor’s guardian, filed the federal lawsuit in 2008 against the city of Hartford and two officers who were at the 2006 shooting scene, Officers John O’Hare and Anthony Pia. Pia is now a detective. Harris’ lawyer, Jon L. Schoenhorn, declined to comment, citing the upcoming trial.
Calls to O’Hare, Pia and other police staff were not returned. The lawyer representing the officers, Thomas R. Gerarde, also could not be reached.
According to court documents, the Harris family had two St. Bernards that were “good-tempered and obedient” and “never bit anyone.”
The 12-year-old, a girl identified only as “K.H.” in court documents, had developed a special relationship with one of the dogs, named Seven.
“She felt she could talk to him and that he would listen, understand, and comfort her in a way that no one else could,” a court memorandum states.
On Dec. 20, 2006, according to the memorandum, O’Hare and Pia walked into the Harris’ backyard at 297 Enfield St. without a warrant. As they rounded the back corner of the house, they saw a St. Bernard, Seven, begin to move toward them. They turned and ran back the way they came, along the north side of the house, toward the front yard, the document states.
The girl ran around the other side of the house “in an effort to head off Seven’s path through the front yard,” it states. The girl heard two shots before she got to the front yard.
When she arrived, she saw O’Hare standing over Seven, who had fallen to the ground. The dog was breathing heavily and his tail was wagging weakly, the document states. She screamed, “Don’t shoot my dog.”
According to the document, “O’Hare looked at K.H., then back to the dog, and shot the dog in the head.” The girl ran to the dog, screaming and crying, after which O’Hare told her, “Sorry, miss, but your dog isn’t going to make it,” it states.
The third bullet caused the dog’s death, the memorandum states. The document states that the girl had suicidal thoughts after the shooting and was hospitalized.
The suit accuses the officers of conducting an “illegal search,” calling their presence a “warrantless invasion.” With the exception of the driveway, the entire property is enclosed by fences or gates, and there were three “Beware of Dog” signs posted on the property, it states.
But according to a nine-page incident report filed by police, O’Hare and Pia had received a tip from a reliable source that two handguns were stashed in an abandoned vehicle in the backyard of 297 Enfield St. They went into the yard about 3:20 p.m., and a large, full-grown St. Bernard “immediately began to bark and snarl,” the report states.
Both officers ran toward the front of the house with the dog in pursuit. Pia was able to get to a sidewalk on the other side of a fence, but O’Hare ended up in the front yard “with the dog running directly at him,” it states.
O’Hare was unable to elude the dog, the report states, which was “showing its teeth.” He pointed his gun at it and yelled for it to get back, but the dog only hesitated momentarily before advancing again, it states.
The dog lunged at O’Hare, who fired three times, hitting it in the head and chest from 3 feet away, the report states.
Pia said the dog was trying to bite O’Hare’s legs as he was running.
The report says nothing about a pause between the second and third shots or the girl witnessing the shooting — a point the defendants are expected to contest in court.
The suit claims that O’Hare’s actions were “so extreme, callous and outrageous that they fell outside the scope of acceptable police behavior,” in violation of the due-process clause of the Constitution.
It also claims that they entered the property illegally and that O’Hare intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees.
A senior assistant corporation counsel for the city, Nathalie Feola-Guerrieri, said, “The city is confident that the officers will be found to have acted justifiably under the circumstances.”
FORT WORTH — Twenty-four hours after a Fort Worth police officer fatally shot Lily, a 5-year-old border collie-English setter mix, its owners still don’t understand why the police officer was on their property and why he used lethal force.
Mark and Cindy Boling had just returned from a shopping trip, and their two dogs leaped into their truck then dashed inside the garage before re-emerging, barking, when an officer walked up the driveway in the 4700 block of Norma Street in east Fort Worth’s Meadowbrook neighborhood.
The officer asked him to control his dogs, Mark Boling said. He urged the officer not to advance, but he did.
“I asked him to stay where he was,” Boling, 52, an electronics technician with a defense contractor, recalled saying. Then he told the officer: “My dogs don’t bite, They’re not going to hurt you. They’re just going to run up to you.”
In a drama that unfolded in seconds, the officer walked onto the Boling’s elevated porch, then stepped onto a painted brick pillar several feet higher, Boling said.
Police spokesman Sgt. Pedro Criado said in a statement Monday that the officer waited by the driveway when two barking dogs charged him aggressively while he repeatedly asked a man at the house to call the animals back. Then the officer jumped onto the porch pillar.
“As the dogs were getting closer to attack/bite the officer, the officer fired his service weapon, striking the dog closest to him,” Criado wrote. Criado did not identify the officer.
Here, the couple’s account diverges from the police statement.
Boling said he had gained control of one of the dogs by the time the officer raised his gun. “Then I hear my wife yelling, ‘Don’t shoot my baby, please don’t hurt my baby!’”
The officer fired once, striking the dog in the back. It dashed to the back yard, where it bled to death within three minutes.
Cindy Boling said she shouted, “Did you shoot my dog?”
“You’d better check on your dog,” she quoted the officer as responding.
But the officer still had the gun raised and pointed toward her husband and surviving dog, she said.
“Why are you on my property? I didn’t call you,” Mark Boling recalls asking.
“Copper theft,” he said the officer replied.
According to Criado, the reported theft had occurred two blocks up the street, near 4900 Norma.
More officers arrived in nine police cars and marked off the area with yellow tape. A sergeant handed Mark Boling a card with a number for the department’s risk management office, in case he wanted to inquire about restitution for the dog they had adopted from the Humane Society.
They were told not to expect an official police response for at least a week.
Criado wrote that anytime an officer shoots a firearm, that triggers a review by “high ranking officials.”
As his wife cried Monday, Mark Boling asked, “Why didn’t he Mace my dog? Why did he do some something so … so final? Why didn’t he move off my property?”
I just wanted to add that border collies are small dogs. It’s HIGHLY unlikely that border collie could inflict enough damage to kill the officer. Using lethal force is completely unnecessary. The cop entering their property was also unlawful. More and more I see cops killing dogs. I’m afraid police departments don’t train cops how to avoid a situation where a dog may be living. Instead, they just keep walking onto the property like they’re high and mighty, looking for a reason to shoot something.