Federal Trial Of Officers Accused Of Shooting Family Dog In Unlawful Search

We have been following the continuing line of cases of police officers shooting pets during raids or investigations. The latest is in Hartford where two police officers shot a family dog in front of a 12-year-old girl after entering the residence of the Harris family without a warrant. They claim the St. Bernard named Seven snarled and charged at them when the entered the yard. Officers John O’Hare and Anthony Pia are defendants in the trial.

The federal trial just began in Hartford over the 2006 shooting.

The family will present evidence that Seven was known as a gentle dog without any history of biting or snarling.

The girl had an extremely close relationship with Seven. The officers said that they were investigating a claim that there were two guns stashed in a car on the property. When they came around the house into the yard without a warrant, the girl, listed in the complaint as K.H., ran around the other side of the house to hold Seven. However, before she got there, the officer shot the dog. When she got to the yard the officer were standing over Seven who was still breathing. She reportedly screamed “Don’t shoot my dog.” One officer allegedly then shot the dog a third time in the head and told her that the dog wouldn’t have made it.

It was O’Hara who shot the dog from about 3 feet away. Pia supported O’Hara’s account that the dog was trying to bite him on the legs. Neither officer mentions the delay before the third shot or the girl being present.

The fact that this was arguably an illegal search adds an interesting dimension to the case. Except for the driveway, the property is enclosed by fences or gates with “Beware of Dog” signs. A “knock and announce” with a warrant might have allowed the family to retrieve the dog. The question is why the officer elected to discard the need for a warrant and simply enter the property unannounced.

Source: Courant

37 thoughts on “Federal Trial Of Officers Accused Of Shooting Family Dog In Unlawful Search”

  1. For black nails it would be best to make several small clips to
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  2. Outcome for different, but similar case


    Thomas and Darren Russell, then teenagers, stated in their lawsuit that police raided their home in 2009 and denied them permission to lock up the family dog, 9-year-old Labrador Lady, before they entered.

    After refusing the request, Officer Richard Antonsen shot the dog when it came around the corner with its tail wagging.

    No criminal activity or wrong doing was found after a search of the apartment, although drugs were found in one of the building’s other units.

    The jury compensated the family’s damages monetarily, awarding Thomas Russell $175,000 (for he had gone through a bit more, being wrongfully arrested), handing Darren Russell $85,000, and giving their parents $35,000 each. Additionally, $2,000 was levied against Officer Antonsen for shooting the dog, and $1,000 levied against the supervisor who ordered the wrongful arrest of Thomas Russell.

  3. To answer a very important question for all american’ s…..i recently won my case is georgia….here ya go…..if any federal, state, or local police break into your home without a warrent and or fire upon residents of private property…use of deadly force must be used. Did we forget ruby ridge?

  4. Police are useless. They are hostile, they show up at the wrong address, and they shoot the wrong people and dogs if they “feel threatened”. They are out of control.

  5. The shooting of canine family members is a national epidemic. Police are using dogs for target practice. I am frankly afraid for my dogs who go in & out of my house through a dog door into a fenced yard. What if the police came to my home by mistake? I would not be here to even try to protect the wonderful animals who have blessed my life in so many ways. Justice for Cisco, Justice for Bucky, Justice for Rosie (3 1/2 year old Newfoundland who was shot by a sniper in Des Moines Washington in 2010). Too many to count. I am sick of this atrocity. I am so sorry for this family and especially the 12-year-old. No one should have to witness something like that.

  6. OTOT
    When visiting France, please note: The residents around Lille are noted for their high wire fences and their hysterical German shephard dogs, several ín many cases.
    When passing on foot, pray that the fences hold.

    They tried first with St. Bernards. But the burglars got loved to death.

    These guys should be dropped off the humanity list and get immediatr retirement—-to Hell.

    Who screwed up their heads?

  7. Pete,

    Pit bulls are also gentle and friendly by nature. Pits tend to use their bodies to move you or keep you from doing whatever it is that they don’t want you to do. They are protective by putting themselves between you and the danger, not by attacking. I had an elderly collie that was like that as well. He stood between me and the stranger at the door until I said it was ok.

  8. “two guns stashed in a car” was the reason for the unlawful entry? Since when is it illegal to have a gun in your car? AS long as it is A) visible or B) out of reach what is the problem? And the Dog is a Saint Bernard– not a breed know for being vicious, but yes, it can be very protective. If I have fenced yard, with a dog behind that fence– nobody comes in unless they announce themselves. Same goes for everyone else I know that keeps their dogs behind a fence.

  9. for some reason the server didn’t take my name the above should be Posted By Darren Smith

  10. Boneheads. If the dog had actually attacked them I might see a kick or a taser but firing a handgun when people are around? I guess there was no possiblity of a richochet from an underground sprinkler head since there was a girl around. And the finishing 3rd shot when the girl was watching. Who was the animal? We didn’t even shoot road injured deer when members of the public were around. That said if someone is going to be attacked by a dog the dog is of no consequence. I’m sorry to be the lone dissenter on this but I have seen many dog attacks on others and no person should have to suffer from a mauling. If a dog attacked me viciously and I had no other choice the dog would be put down. And I have put down marauding dogs in the past using a long gun. Yet, I have a hard time believing this was the case here, though I am not a part of the trial.

    To answer Arthur’s questions about charges, I can only speak for Washington, but we have a recourse here. Article 1 Section 7 of the WA Constitution essentially is interpreted as “All warrantless searches are unlawful except for a a few precisely defined exceptions.” A fenced area such as a back yard of a house is considered to be curtiledge. RCW 10.79.040 reads:

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any police officer or other peace officer to enter and search any private dwelling house or place of residence without the authority of a search warrant issued upon a complaint as by law provided.

    (2) Any police officer or other peace officer violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

    I know of one case where this was prosecuted. Back in the 1990’s the Soap Lake Police Chief was the convicted of this for another boneheaded abuse of power.

    For your second question Arthur we have a procedure here were a private citizen can appear before a judge and swear out a summons for a misdeameanor or gross misdemeanor charge if the prosecutor’s office declines to prosecute and the person can show probable cause. Sorry, but I spent about an hour looking for it and cannot remember where this old law is buried but I read it several years ago and it probably is there.

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