Government Goons Murder Puppies!
The drug war goes to the dogs.
by Radley Balko
In the course of researching paramilitary drug raids, I've found some
pretty disturbing stuff. There was a case where a SWAT officer stepped
on a baby's head while looking for drugs in a drop ceiling. There was
one where an 11-year-old boy was shot at point-blank range [In the
back--TQ]. Police have broken down doors, screamed obscenities, and held
innocent people at gunpoint only to discover that what they thought were
marijuana plants were really sunflowers, hibiscus, ragweed, tomatoes, or
elderberry bushes. (It's happened with all five.)
Yet among hundreds of botched raids, the ones that get me most worked up
are the ones where the SWAT officers shoot and kill the family dog.
One of the most appalling cases occurred in Maricopa County, Arizona,
the home of Joe Arpaio, self-proclaimed "toughest sheriff in America."
In 2004 one of Arpaio's SWAT teams conducted a bumbling raid in a
Phoenix suburb. Among other weapons, it used tear gas and an armored
personnel carrier that later rolled down the street and smashed into a
car. The operation ended with the targeted home in flames and exactly
one suspect in custody -- for outstanding traffic violations.
But for all that, the image that sticks in your head, as described by
John Dougherty in the alternative weekly Phoenix New Times, is that of a
puppy trying to escape the fire and a SWAT officer chasing him back into
the burning building with puffs from a fire extinguisher. The dog burned
In a massive 1998 raid at a San Francisco housing co-op, cops shot a
family dog in front of its family, then dragged it outside and shot it
When police in Fremont, California, raided the home of medical marijuana
patient Robert Filgo, they shot his pet Akita nine times. Filgo himself
was never charged.
Last October police in Alabama raided a home on suspicion of marijuana
possession, shot and killed both family dogs, then joked about the kill
in front of the family. They seized eight grams of marijuana, equal in
weight to a ketchup packet.
In January a cop en route to a drug raid in Tampa, Florida, took a short
cut across a neighboring lawn and shot the neighbor's two pooches on his
way. And last May, an officer in Syracuse, New York, squeezed off
several shots at a family dog during a drug raid, one of which
ricocheted and struck a 13-year-old boy in the leg. The boy was
handcuffed at gunpoint at the time.
Radley Balko is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute.