According to an October 7 report by Detroit Free Press, a couple in Michigan has filed a federal lawsuit after their dog was shot by police, who were at the wrong address.
Erica Morena and Katti Putnam of Flint were in their home on June 18 when a Michigan Department of Corrections officer went into their back yard. The family dog, a 15-year-old mixed breed named Chloe, apparently heard the officers and went down the stairs and into her back yard to investigate the disturbance.
A neighbor witnessed the shooting, and stated Chloe had on a collar, wasn’t barking and has no history of biting. Chloe was shot below the nose. She survived the shooting, but three operations later, Chloe is missing part of her tongue, as well as a canine tooth.
Erica and Katti ran outside to help Chloe, and overheard officers say they were at the wrong address. The fugitive they were looking for lived next door.
Officer’s told the family they’d take care of the expense of treating Chloe. A state trooper pulled the family over for speeding on the drive to the vet, but instead of ticketing them, the officer gave the family an escort to the vet clinic.
Royal Oak attorney Christopher Olson, who is experienced in dogs shot by police cases, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on October 3. Olson stated in an interview with Detroit Free Press
“The police went to the wrong house and shot these folks dog in their own back yard … They turned the situation into a violent one.”
Olson is concerned that although free dog behavior training is offered online to police, few are taking advantage of the courses. He believes that had the officers received training and followed protocol discussed in the course, they wouldn’t have used lethal force as a first line of defense.
The family is seeking seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages, along with vet expenses being paid. The officers haven’t taken care of the bill and haven’t returned Olson’s phone calls. The attorney describes the number of dog shooting by police as epidemic. One of his cases recently made the pages of Time magazine.
Chloe will recover from her ordeal, and Olson will likely secure a large settlement for his clients, who say their Fourth Amendment rights were violated: when the officers unreasonably destroyed or seized Chloe, who is considered their property.
When dogs are shot in their own back yard by officers at the wrong address, then officers tell untruths about at the very least covering any vet bills, large settlements won through lawsuits may be the only way to reduce the number of dog shootings.