Federal court rules police can shoot a dog if it moves, barks when officer enters home

(News10 Photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWS10) – A federal court ruled that police can shoot a dog if it moves or barks when an officer enters a home.

The decision stems from an incident in Battle Creek, Michigan where, according to court documents, police shot and killed a dog while executing a search warrant on a home looking for drugs.

Mark and Cheryl Brown filed a petition with the court to hold the officers and the city responsible for the deaths of their dogs in 2013.

They said that the officers “unlawfully seized their property in violation of the Fourth Amendment when officers shot and killed two dogs while executing a search warrant.”

One of the officers testified that he shot the first pit bull after it appeared to move “a few inches” and lunged at him. According to court documents, the dog then retreated to the basement, where the officer shot and killed it.

Court documents say the officer shot the second dog after it went to the basement, turned sideways and barked at the officers.

Another officer then shot and killed the dog after it ran into the back corner.

The officer saw “there was blood coming out of numerous holes in the dog and…did not want to see it suffer so he put her out of her misery and fired the last shot.”

In the decision, the court said Mark and Cheryl Brown failed to provide evidence that the first dog did not lunge at police and that the second dog did not bark.

“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 decision.  “The standard we set out today is that a police officer’s use of deadly force against a dog while executing a search warrant to search a home for illegal drug activity is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when…the dog poses an imminent threat to the officer’s safety.”