I know, I know this is supposed to be a DUI blog. However I read this article earlier from the Seattle Times and have kind of been a little obsessed about it lately. I have googled all the articles involving this incident, read the federal lawsuit, watched the videos from the Des Moines PD, and been following any social media that mentions this incident.
In case you're not familiar with this. Basically what happened is a family was out of town. Their Newfoundland Dog was left home in their fenced back yard. The American Kennel Club describes Newfoundlands as having a sweet disposition and the perfect family dog. Although they were bred to be a workhorse and they are a large breed that needs daily exercise, they are the perfect companion dog and are not ill tempered.
So while the family is gone the Des Moines Police Department gets a call that a dog is running loose in the neighborhood. It was a Sunday so Animal Control was not working, so these thugs with a badge showed up. According to witnesses and the 911 callers the call was made because the dog was running around, and the neighbors were concerned for its safety. Not because it was acting violent or anything.
When the police showed up the dog was in the family's driveway barking. From the video you can hear snide remarks from the Police. They are saying, "he doesn't want me to get close," and within 10 minutes of arrival they are actually discussing with one another whether they should "just shoot the dog."
According to witnesses what happens next will shock all animal lovers, especially dog lovers. The police in their enlightened wisdom decided to try and use a Taser to subdue the dog, Rosie. To no surprise this was ineffective and sent the dog running away. I'm sure frightened and scared out of her mind. The Officers can be heard on the video laughing and saying, "oh he doesn't want to play." Then a few minutes later one of these idiot cops says, "I'll shoot him, lets go shoot him."
Meanwhile another Officer got close to Rosie to use a Taser a second time. Of course to no avail and the dog eventually found her way into the back yard of Lora Perry. According to Ms. Perry, Rosie had slipped into her back yard and was just sniffing around back there. Not doing anything else, certainly not threatening or violent. In fact Ms. Perry has said the dog wasn't doing anything and just could have stayed back there.
When the Police arrived and asked Ms. Perry if the dog was back there, she replied yes, and they told her to get in the house. An Officer then arrived with a high powered rifle and just walked into the back yard, past the No Trespassing sign. The first shot shattered Rosie's leg, an autopsy later revealed. On the video you can hear one of these idiots shout, "Nice." Three more shots were fired and Rosie was killed on the backyard of Perry family.
Now the kicker is the Wright family, owners of the dog arrived home later that day. They couldn't find their beloved pet and frantically starting calling friends, and neighbors. Imagine this the Des Moines Police Department didn't even have the decency to contact the family of the dog they just murdered. It wasn't until the family found the Taser darts in the driveway the Police were contacted. Eventually they informed the family of what they did, offered some bullshit reason on why, and left it at that.
I couldn't imagine what the family of this dog must have been feeling when they found out what happened. Probably denial, anger, frustration. All of the above. Even though I'm a DUI Lawyer in Seattle, and not a civil rights lawyer something like this still pulls my heart strings. You see I'm a dog lover. I have been raised with dogs my entire life, my family now has a small Shi Tzu dog named Meso that we cherish.
I couldn't imagine anything ever happening to him, let alone imagine him being killed by the Police Department. The dog lover in me would want to make whoever did this pay. But the lawyer in me what want to sue the Des Moines Police Department and show everyone what kind of police officers they employ. Nothing can bring back this family pet, but I hope the Des Moines PD have to seriously end up paying big time for their horrific and stupid actions.
Matthew A. Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses.