A federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, ruled that police can shoot a dog while entering a home if the animal “moves or barks” in the officer’s presence.
The decision is the final step in a case brought to court by Mark and Cheryl Brown of Battle Creek, whose pit bull was killed while officers were executing a search warrant on their home in 2013.
The couple claimed that officers “unlawfully seized their property in violation of the Fourth Amendment when officers shot and killed two dogs while executing a search warrant.”
An officer testified that he shot the first dog when it appeared to move “a few inches” and lunged at him. The dog fled to the basement, where the officer shot and killed it. Court documents reveal that another officer killed the second dog after it too ran to the basement and barked at the officers.
Judge Eric Clay’s decision ruled that the Browns 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,” the ruling reads. “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.”