Photo: Not actual dog
A ruling from the 6th Circuit Court supports the police use of force against animals if the animal “poses an imminent threat to the officer’s safety.”
Mark and Cheryl Brown petitioned the court to hold the city and police officers from Battle Creek (MI) accountable for shooting and killing their dogs while executing a search warrant of their home looking for evidence of drugs. The plaintiffs said the police officers’ actions amounted to the unlawful seizure of property in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
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The circuit court on Monday agreed with a lower court ruling siding with the police officers.
“The standard we set out today is that a police officer’s use of deadly force against a dog while executing a warrant to search a home for illegal drug activity is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when, given the totality of the circumstances and viewed from the perspective of an objectively reasonable officer, the dog poses an imminent threat to the officer’s safety,” Judge Eric Clay wrote in the court’s opinion.
Various media outlets are outraged by the outcome in this case and citing the fact that the animals “barely moved” before getting shot. We agree that if you are the owner of a dog, you likely would never think it posed a threat but as a police officer conducting business, this case gives the profession confidence that animals will not be permitted to be perceived threats and thus placing additional burdens on law enforcement.