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Police Raid Wrong House, Kill Couple’s Dog

Police Raid Wrong House, Kill Couple’s Dog In what’s becoming an all-too-common story, a D.C. area couple had their dog killed by police who were at the wrong house.

An Accokeek [Maryland] couple is demanding an apology after Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Deputies burst into their home and killed their dog – all because deputies went to the wrong address.

Pam and Frank Myers were tucked away in their home Friday night watching a movie when the warrant squad pounced. “All of a sudden I hear, bang, bang, bang, ‘Open the door, police, open the door,’” said Pam Myers. “They wouldn’t let me go to the bathroom which is like seven feet down the hall,” said Frank Myers. “it was terrifying. I can’t sit on my couch at night any more. I’m looking over my shoulder the whole time,” said Pam Myers.

The Myers say the deputies knew immediately they had raided the wrong home. They say it could have ended with an apology, until the couple heard two shots from the yard. “And I said, ‘You just shot my dog,” said Pam Myers, through tears. “I just wanted to go out and hold her a bit. They wouldn’t even let me go out.” The couple’s five-year-old boxer Pearl was killed. The deputy says he feared for his life. They say the dog would bark but was no danger to the deputies.

ABC 7/NewsChannel 8′s Brad Bell reports that a search of court records shows a warrant for a suspected drug dealer who lives two doors away at 14610 Livingston Road. The address is clearly displayed on that house.

“It’s just not right that people have to worry about – police have their jobs to do, but the house is marked over there. All they had to do was go look,” she said. “I want the sheriff to apologize to my family for killing their dog.”

A video report of the incident is here.

According to a WTOP radio report, the police have apologized. Obviously, it’s rather late for that.

Mistakes happen in any endeavor and arresting violent criminals is dangerous work. Still, one would think police engaging in high stress raids would ensure that they are at the right address. Further, it’s not unreasonable for them to know who they’re after and expect some restraint.

Radley Balko, who tracks these sort of incidents, links to a map from earlier this year that’s already “about three-dozen incidents out of date.”

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    This “but the cop felt threatened” dodge gets used all the time, and is carte blanche to shoot anything bigger than a pomeranian.

    Until the courts start looking at reasonable attitudes and alternatives and holding the cops to those, cops will continue to kill people’s dogs and get away with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Wayne says:

    Police are humans and they make mistakes. However the police should know this and take it into account during their actions. Also when something like this happens the victims should be will compensate but not something outrageous like a million dollars for a dog death.

    If a person kills a police dog it is considered the dame as killing a police officer. I think it’s ironic and wrong. Yes it is a special case but I think the law goes overboard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  3. Paul says:

    Also when something like this happens the victims should be compensated but not something outrageous like a million dollars for a dog death.

    Following up on this point, what drives me crazy is the common American mindset that misdeeds committed by public officials or employees should result in huge payments by taxpayers to the affected person. Maybe if instead we held the employee accountable instead of the taxpayer there wouldn’t be so many of these kinds of incidents in the first place.

    That said, obviously when a public employee causes actual damages (and not the emotional damages stuff) while acting in accordance with applicable policies, the injured person should be compensated and taxpayers have to pay for it as a cost of doing business. But punitive or emotional damages tacked on won’t bring the dog back or stop the next shooting. Instead, if the cop is deemed to have acted inappropriately and then faces appropriate consequence (like paying even a modest amount of damages out of his own pocket) maybe the next cop won’t shoot to kill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  4. Wayne says:

    Paul
    Well stated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    It’s the training and the incentives to militarize the police. Train the police to be less hostile, less likely to fire, and more responsible. Take away the military weapons and tactics.

    The other comments are absolutely correct. I especially like making the wrong doers pay, not the taxpayer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  6. Steve Verdon says:

    No, horribly state Paul.

    Following up on this point, what drives me crazy is the common American mindset that misdeeds committed by public officials or employees should result in huge payments by taxpayers to the affected person.

    You are forgetting Paul that the police are agents of the people–i.e. citizens and also taxpayers. So they are the ultimate party that is responsible. If the taxpayers don’t like it, then vote for candidates that will put in place better procedures, rules, and policies.

    Maybe if instead we held the employee accountable instead of the taxpayer there wouldn’t be so many of these kinds of incidents in the first place.

    Agreed, but then you have to get rid of the knee-jerk attitude of: Cops are Heroes. Further, the taxpayers/citizens need to put people in charge who will make meaningful changes to deal with the code of silence that is present in many, if not all, police departments.

    That said, obviously when a public employee causes actual damages (and not the emotional damages stuff) while acting in accordance with applicable policies, the injured person should be compensated and taxpayers have to pay for it as a cost of doing business.

    Emotional damages don’t count? So, if I were to abuse you emotionally (i.e. psychologically…some might even call this torture) then your view is “no harm no foul”? Pardon me while I find this assertion to be complete Bravo Sierra.

    But punitive or emotional damages tacked on won’t bring the dog back or stop the next shooting.

    Actually that is precisely the point of punitive damages. The point is to make the cost of wrong-doing hurt so that somebody finally does something to change the bone-headed policy that lead to the problem in the first place. Like serving no-knock warrants on non-violent offenders and using police who only have half-assed training and can’t check a damn street sign/address.

    Now if you want to do something like burn the money that goes towards punitive damages, fine by me. But getting rid of them then reduces whatever incentive there is by taxpayers to actually do something about incompetence, corruption, or bad policies.

    Instead, if the cop is deemed to have acted inappropriately and then faces appropriate consequence (like paying even a modest amount of damages out of his own pocket) maybe the next cop won’t shoot to kill.

    And what “modest” amount should be paid to the family of Kathryn Johnston?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. anjin-san says:

    Interesting that these cases seem to get the right worked up. In a way, this sort of thing is a logical conclusion of the Bush era. No accountability. Shoot first and ask questions later. Broad government powers.

    Careful what you wish for guys. Smile, there may well be a government camera pointing at you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Steve Plunk says:

    anjin-san,

    It is actually the local authorities more likely to do violate my rights than Bush or federal officials. In my county the tax assessor has recently stated his people have a right to enter fenced back yards without permission and the water commission searches for backflow valves without homeowner permission. None of this is a result of Bush administration policies. It is the nature of government or any organization to always push the limits and boundaries. It’s up to us to push back and settle somewhere in the middle.

    In either case the government is not evil, it’s simply following the natural path. Letting emotions play too large a part of our thinking on this subject muddies the water and makes it harder to create sound public policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Wyatt Earp says:

    It’s the training and the incentives to militarize the police. Train the police to be less hostile, less likely to fire, and more responsible. Take away the military weapons and tactics.

    Steve – you are obviously not a police officer, and obviously do not live in Philadelphia. Sure, I could have been trained to be “less hostile” in Philly – we actually are trained to act in that manner – and we could take away the military weapons and tactics.” Of course, since we already outgunned on the streets, these options would only make us a bigger target than we already are.

    This year, we six of my fellow officers have been shot in the line of duty – one fatally. Despite what Anderson may think, most in my profession are threatened – or feel that way – when we arrive to work. The fact is, in Philadelphia, if you shoot a cop, you’re a local hero. Try going to your job with that idea in the back of your mind.

    I’m sure everyone – including me – would love to live in a rose-colored world with sunshine and lollipops where no one shoots at the cops, no one sics their dogs on us, and crime is eradicated. Until that happens, however, I’ll make sure I go home safely at night. If the occasional mistake is made, I’d rather a dog be lost than another human being.

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