Monday, March 30, 2009

On dog shootings

I maintain another blog where I keep track of publicized cases where police officer shoot dogs. Someone asked me why I monitor such events.

Part of the reason is this recent case of two dogs being killed by Buffalo narcotics officers. The officers had a warrant for vicodin pills. After entering the home, officers told the homeowner to sit down in a chair. He did so. At that point, one of the two dogs, jumped off the chair she was sitting in. No attempt was made to have the owner call the dog; instead, the officer pumped three shotgun shells into the dog, killing her. When the other dog ran away from the officer, he was shot from behind and killed as well.

No vicodin pills were found.

Another reason is my own personal experience with the drug enforcement agency. Growing up, I lived in a duplex in a nice neighborhood in Sunnyvale, California. By happenstance, our newest neighbors happened to be drug runners with a loooong rapsheet. If they had found bodies in their backyard, I would not have been the neighbor saying "Oh, they seemed so nice" but the neighbor who said "Unsurprising."

One day, coming home from high school, two scary looking men accosted my mom and me. They were trying to weed out information. When we finally said that we didn't live in the same house, that this was a duplex, the men got nice and started asking us questions about the neighbors. We were lucky - our home would have been the one raided two weeks later instead of the correct house, all because the DEA seemed to have a problem with comprehending what a duplex is.

So I'm just not all that thrilled with the way narcotics officers deal with raids, especially raids involving no-knock warrants. Even less so having two dogs who would most likely be curious enough to approach heavily armed men invading my home and get shot for it. It doesn't matter that I'm an upstanding citizen with no interest in illicit drugs, too many mistakes have happened for me to just pretend that it can't happen to me.

I keep track of these shootings as evidence of our shoot first, ask questions never, SWAT-paramilitary police society. I keep track as a reminder that there are a lot of things wrong that need fixing. And I keep track because many of these victims are poor, disenfranchised people who do not have the money or community support to fight back. (Contrast with Berwyn Heights mayor who's two dogs were shot to death as they ran from SWAT officers during a no-knock botched raid. You can also see a map of botched raids here.)

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