Monday, May 28, 2012

Doggycide in Hartford, Connecticut

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Dog chalk outline

Fitting that I’d wake up early and groggy just to find myself reading another infuriating report of police murdering a beloved household pet because of their own screw-up:

On Dec. 20, 2006, according to the memorandum, [John] O'Hare and [Anthony] 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 [12yo] 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.

And the police’s version, complete with threatening St. Bernard:

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.

This time, it’ll be up to a federal court to decide whose retelling of the events sticks closer to reality. I’m guessing that even if Seven the St. Bernard had been acting aggressively – quite a stretch on its own, and even if true, it would be perfectly natural given the confrontation with unknown invaders on his property – that still wouldn’t excuse the cops from barging in on private property like they did. Either way, the blame for the incident taking place at all appears to rest unavoidably upon their shoulders. I only hope the court treats them accordingly for once.

(via @radleybalko)

Doggycide Bingo card
[full size (514×625)]

Doggycide Bingo Index

Confirmed hits:

  • Dead Seven
  • Seven was in fenced-in backyard
  • O’Hare shot first
  • “Aggressive” St. Bernard
  • Presumably no apology offered
  • Seven was defending territory
  • O’Hare allegedly shot already incapacitated dog in the head
  • Cops claim Seven was aggressive; owners say dog was placid
  • Cops entered property without notice or warrant
  • Total: 9/25
    Four-in-a-row, but no bingo.