Cops killed a couple's dog at their Des Moines, Washington home. Now the couple has filed a $600,000 lawsuit against the Des Moines police department.
Two years ago, Charles and Deirdre Wright left their two dogs, Rosie a Newfoundland, and Bentley, a Saint Bernard, alone in their home while they were away overnight, reports the Examiner.
During their absence, a woman called the police to report that a "big black dog" was running in the streets and expressed fear that the dog may get killed. The caller never stated that the dog showed any aggression. This put in motion a series of events that led to the police allegedly shooting and killing a seemingly well-behaved dog without cause.
When the police arrived, they found Rosie in the driveway of the Wrights' home. It's alleged that almost immediately, the police started to discuss killing the dog despite the dog showing no aggression, reports the Examiner.
The police officers reportedly had a catchpole to safely apprehend the animal, but they apparently did not know how to use it.
As a result, the officers Tased the dog, sending it fleeing. At this point, the cops reportedly said to each other, "Let's just go shoot him." Rosie is then Tasered again, and runs away.
When Rosie was fatally shot, she was reportedly hiding in a neighbor's bushes. The police shot her four times. The lawsuit charges that Rosie never barked, never growled, never charged, and never showed any signs of aggression.
The police are in a difficult position where they have to make difficult decisions to protect the public welfare. In some cases, this can include shooting dogs. However, police typically need some reason to shoot. Procedures for dealing with animals and pets are generally stated in police protocols.
It's probably a safe bet that there are no police protocols anywhere that would allow police to kill a non-threatening and retreating dog, especially when the police officers have a catchpole readily available.
Police departments are typically immune from personal injury lawsuits. However, in cases of police misconduct or brutality, the police may be liable. The situations where a police department may be held liable for damages can be very complex. And the process to file a lawsuit against the police is different than the process to sue another individual and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
If you have a potential claim against the police, you will want to work with a personal injury attorney with experience in this area.