Authorities who went to the wrong house in search of a wanted fugitive and shot a beloved family pet are refusing to take responsibility for their actions, according to a Michigan attorney who has filed a lawsuit against them.
“These officers came into the wrong house, shot this dog, told the owners they would take care of it and then never returned their calls,” Royal Oak attorney Chris Olson told The Huffington Post.
Olson is representing Erica Moreno and Katti Putnam. The couple’s 15-year-old mixed breed dog, Clohe, was shot in the face during the mistaken police raid, Olson said.
Clohe survived the shooting, but has had to endure three surgeries, and lost part of her tongue and a canine tooth.
“Clohe’s not been the same since,” Putnam told HuffPost. “It really angers me and makes me concerned for the system and how things work.”
On Oct. 3, Olson filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan Department of Corrections investigator Ron Hughes. The lawsuit alleges that in shooting Clohe, the defendant violated Moreno and Putnam’s Fourth Amendment rights.
According to Putnam, the events leading up to the shooting began on June 18 when Hughes, along with several Michigan State troopers, went to Moreno and Putnam’s home to recover a wanted fugitive.
“It was a hot day, the windows and back door were open, and I was sitting inside reading a book,” Putnam said.
The peaceful summer day was interrupted by a loud bang at the front door.
“The next thing I knew there was a tactical team surrounding our house,” Putnam said. “I went onto the front porch and they said they were looking for a fugitive. I was answering their questions when an officer looked at the address on our house and said, ‘We’re at the wrong house.’”
According to Olson, the tactical team had mistaken Moreno and Putnam’s house for that of a neighbor’s home — where the fugitive they wanted was allegedly staying.
“I went inside to get my identification and I heard a pop,” Putnam said. “I looked out the door to the back yard and there was an officer with his arm raised and a gun in his hand. I immediately realized Clohe had gone outside.”
Jimmy Armstrong, a neighbor who witnessed the shooting, wrote in a signed affidavit that he saw Clohe enter the backyard. He said she was not attacking or threatening any of the officers.
“[Hughes] shot Clohe for no reason at all,” Armstrong wrote in the affidavit, according to the lawsuit.
Hughes allegedly fired a second shot, which missed Clohe, prompting Putnam to place herself in harm’s way — between the officer and her now injured pet.
“I was yelling at him,” said Putnam. “I said, ‘Why are you shooting my dog? What are you doing? You’re at the wrong house.’”
During the exchange, Clohe made her way back inside the house, leaving a trail of blood in her wake.
“I followed the blood trail into the bedroom, where my partner was cradling Clohe and crying hysterically,” Putnam said.
According to the lawsuit, a Michigan state trooper told Moreno and Putnam, “We’ll take care of this” and urged them to get their wounded pet to a veterinary clinic.
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“They should not have been in our backyard,” she said. “Clohe did not charge them or anything. She is old. She has a hard time getting on our couch as it is and she hobbles down the steps when she goes outside. She does not run or charge.”
I am always loath to disarm people (note my defense of the so-called “mentally ill”), even the police. Law enforcement has as much right to self defense as I do, but this has become an epidemic.
But to the main point, one by one, police force after police force, if you prove that you cannot handle yourselves with maturity, decency and respect for ordinary folks, you should not be armed. You should forthwith turn in your weapons to your superiors, and if you don’t, you should be forcibly disarmed by the National Guard (or the unorganized militia).