Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why do so many police end up killing family pets?

There are still people who make excuses for the way American police are acting. Here are two more stories that illustrate my contention that the police need to reigned in. They are dangerous and they are acting like the masters of the public instead of their servants.

Here is a story from Idaho about the Barboza family. A few days ago a Teton Country Sheriff’s Deputy arrives at the home and demands Leonel Barboza bring out the family pet, a dog named Bobby. The Deputy claimed that there was a complaint that the dog had bitten someone. When Mr. Barboza asked if there was any proof that this had happened the officer said: “I don’t need any proof.”

The deputy pulled out his rifle and shot the dog three times without any legal processes taking place. The officer then got in his car and drove away leaving the animal where it lay.

Mr. Barboza’s father-in-law, who had witnessed the shooting had a nervous breakdown as a result and was hospitalized. When the family returned home from the hospital they discovered, to their surprise, that the dog was still alive. The local television news reporter looked at court records regarding the case and could find one complaint, filed a year ago about the dog but it was dismissed. The dog is now under the care of a vet. Mr. Barboza says: “You know my kinds think all the cops are bad because an officer came and shot his dog.”

Kayla Irwin is a single mother of two children. The other day she returned home to see what appeared to be smoke billowing out of her apartment in Lawrenceville, Indiana. It was tear gas.

The police were looking for a fugitive and had somehow concluded that he must be in the apartment of Ms. Irwin, who doesn’t know the man. For hours a paramilitary outfit of cops surrounded the apartment bellowing orders in loudspeakers demanding the suspect surrender.

A neighbor, who just returned from duty in Iraq says he was astounded. Emanuel Brightwell said: “In my opinion, it looked like they were enjoying what they were doing. They did not need to do all this.” Another neighbor described the situation this way: “It looked like they were ready to go to war.”

The police officers finally decided to act when the alleged fugitive didn’t respond. So they fired canisters of CS gas into the apartment and went charging in with weapons at the ready. They then spent a period of time totally ransacking the apartment and tearing everything up in their search. Drawers were emptied on the floor, furniture overturned, etc.

The suspect did not respond because there was no suspect. The apartment was empty except for the family pets that the police had gassed when they refused to surrender. Apparently the family cat survived but police managed to kill a deadly gerbil.

All the furnishings are covered with the dust from the gas and it clear that it would take many, many hours to straighten the destruction the police left in their erroneous raid. A reporter who visited the apartment a few days later had to leave the premises because the gas residue was sufficient to burn his eyes. Ms. Irwin and her children can no longer live in the apartment due to the gas. The apartment complex manager has put her up in another apartment for the time being. But Irwin is trying to find some way to cover the bills for cleaning all her possessions.

Police have told her it is her responsibility to clean up their mess. After a local television station covered the story two police appeared and said that the department would investigate if they could find some money for Ms. Irwin so that she could have the cleaning done. Personally I think the police officers should be docked pay sufficient to cover the cleaning and to pay damages. But cops don’t believe cops should be held responsible for violating the life, liberty or property of others. They truly do believe that they are above the law.

A few days ago Pam and Frank Myers were sitting at home watching a movie. Pam describes what happens: “All of a sudden I hear bang, bang, bang ‘Open the door, police, open the door.” For the next 45 minutes the Myers were held by the police as they searched the house. She was even denied permission to use the toilet.

Then she heard gun shots outside as one of the police officers executed the family dog. He later claimed that he feared for his life. Isn’t that always the case? Over and over we read about police raids and repeatedly they execute the family pet. And the police story, from locality to locality, is always the same. They claim the dog was a threat -- of course the families, and usually reams of witnesses from the neighborhood all claim otherwise. But so far I don’t know of one police officer being disciplined for murdering family pets.

After murdering the pet dog Pearl the police left. They had the wrong house. They didn’t apologize and just left the family to take of the dead animal they loved.

In Dyer, Tennessee a police officer says he received a call about a loose dog that was supposedly menacing. The police shot the dog, Buster, in the yard of Dale and Sherry Clark, the owners of the animal. The police officer claims that the dog was snarling and coming at him and he fired as a last resort. But according to Sherry Clark the vet who performed surgery on the dog, who had to have a leg and shoulder amputated, said “there is no way the bullet would be coming in through the back side of the leg if the dog was coming towards [the police officer].”

In Broward County an 11-year-old Dalmatian is fighting for its life after a country sheriff shot it. Allegedly the officer received a call about a barking dog. When she got to the neighborhood she heard a dog barking in the back yard of a house and entered the property. She did not try to contact the property owners at all. Instead of knocking on the front door to inform them of a complaint about barking she went into the back yard.

She alleges that the dog was inside the house and when was coming out the door. Of course she felt her life in danger and shoots the dog. The dog wears a collar that sends a shock if it leaves the property so it doesn’t leave the yard and was on the property when shot.

But another news report on the injured animal raises questions about the truthfulness of the police office. “Fred’s vet said the bullet went in his back and out his side.” That would appear to indicate the dog was running away from the officer not toward her.

As Lord Acton said -- power corrupts.

Photo: The dog in the photo is Fred.