Shooting Dogs During Search Was Reasonable

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By Bernie Pazanowski

Police officers who shot and killed two pit bulls during a drug raid didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held Dec. 19 ( Brown v. Battle Creek Police Dep’t , 2016 BL 420467, 6th Cir., No. 16-1575, 12/19/16 ).

Dogs are property and the unreasonable seizure of them is unconstitutional, the opinion by Judge Eric L. Clay said, joining every other circuit to address the issue.

The officers in this case acted reasonably, however, because the dogs were acting aggressively and preventing police from clearing the house and checking for other possible occupants, the court said.

The ruling affirmed dismissal of a 42 U.S.C. §1983 suit by the dogs’ owners, who lived in the house but weren’t the target of the search.

Judges Karen Nelson Moore and Joseph M. Hood, sitting by designation, joined the opinion.

Morgan & Meyers PLC represented the owners. Battle Creek City Attorney’s Office represented the officers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bna.com

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