In 2002 in New York, for example, a court has ruled that there is no cause of action for loss of companionship of a dog - even due to a pharmacist's mistake that killed that dog.
And, recently, in Canada, a judge took his time to mock a childless couple who, while divorcing after 16 years of marriage, asked the court to treat their dogs as their children and to award physical custody and visitation of them. The judge said - I do not have to decide on the custody of kitchen knives, and the same applies to dogs, as property under the law. Thus, crossing out, as unimportant, feelings of childless humans toward family pets as family members, and obviously crossing out feelings of family pets towards humans, too.
There is a whole Nonhumanrights.org project created to assert in court that animals are not JUST property - that, due to their status as living beings, they must have some rights other than property.
Meanwhile, a new court decision about family pets' right to life was reported from a federal court in Michigan - and is causing waves in comments in the social media - that a police officer entering a residence may shoot a dog if the dog moves or barks.
Police shoots family dogs lately in alarming numbers, as an article reporting on the same federal court decision observes, so that even law enforcement publications raise the question whether we are dealing with an "epidemic" of such shootings.
And, for an officer, anything - anything - qualifies as a reason to be afraid for his safety - even when a dog is STANDING over the corpse of her dead companion dog and barking at its killer, but NOT attacking or moving.
Of course, the article recognizes public anger at the decision and claims that "nothing changed" by the decision - that people still have constitutional 4th Amendment "property right" against governmental "unreasonable search and seizure", killing of a family pet qualifying as a "seizure" - the judge "just" found, in that particular incident alone, that the killing was reasonable and "justified".
Yet, that claim, that "nothing changed" is not true.
Under precedential power, in the jurisdiction covered by the 6th Circuit - and, likely, in the entire United States, looking at that decision as a precedent - the "totality of circumstances" "test" now includes a dog "moving or barking", and thus, ANY officer entering ANY residence with a dog, is empower to shoot the dog on sight, and then concoct a story about being "threatened" - unless, of course, every owner installs INTERNAL security cameras and crates dogs within the home at all times - which are, both, unreasonable suggestions which will not work and will not be utilized.
Right now, at 11:20 am Eastern Time, as I am writing this article, there are 324 comments and 702 shares of the article about the 6th Circuit's decision:
Most comments are from people outraged by the decision and indicating that they will protect their pets the same way they will protect themselves - with armed resistance.
And this is just one example of how unreasonable court decisions, made contrary the contents of the record showing that, at the very least, the 2nd dog did nothing to invite the officer to kill her,
decisions made for a pre-judged purpose, in order to protect the government from liability, can cause disrespect to the judiciary and destroy people's belief in the rule of law.
Of course, there were attempts to "calm down" the public - with comments accusing the reporters of "click-baiting" and "misleading the public:
The commentator Rob Cozart is, of course, according to his LinkedIn profile, and according to his FB profile, a retired police Leuitenant:
with the exact same mentality that causes the public to fear the police: look how he reacted to my comment that the decision has a precedential power:
As soon as anybody tries to just point out that a certain precedent is going to be dangerous in application, giving the police extremely broad powers to shoot at family pets - which can, by the way, kill children and people who are inside the house, next to the dogs, and who the dogs may be protecting - the police logic is:
- our "system" - whatever it is - 'isn't perfect, but it's the best one in the world", and
- that "that's why everyone wants to come here" - I do not know whether Rob Cozart was hinting at the fact that I came to the U.S. as an immigrant, but that's what the clear implication is.
And, of course, the "totality of circumstances" "test" is no test at all, giving the widest discretion to police officers to claim they were "threatened", even in situations where they cannot be possibly "threatened" so as to justify the use of deadly force - and that applies not only to dogs, but to police shootings of people, too.
And, of course, the K-9 "units", dogs "working" for the police are, of course, cherished by the police - which does not cancel the fact that police shootings of other people's dogs is on the rise, making, once again, even a law enforcement magazine calling it "an epidemic".
Now, as to the Fox article being a "click-bate" that caused so many angry comments from the public as to the court decision.
The court decision clearly states that:
- the police had a search warrant, but not an arrest warrant;
- that the target of their search warrant was a person who was arrested outside of the house before their search of the house;
- that the police arrested - and handcuffed - one of the plaintiffs, without an arrest warrant, explaining to him that they are going to exercise the search warrant - which was illegal, because there is nothing in the law allowing them to insist that they can only exercise the search warrant in the absence of residents, and especially to arrest residents, who provide no resistance at all and pose no threat, without an arrest warrant, in order to prevent their presence where the search warrant is exercised - such "policies" allow police officers to plant evidence during searches in the absence of witnesses;
- the handcuffed plaintiff offered officers the keys to the house that he just used to open the house and to let the dogs out;
- the police looked inside the residence before ramming into it, and saw two pit bulls - a 92-pound and a 53-pound dog - jumping, "pawing", and barking at the windows;
- the arrested plaintiffs could very well be allowed to get into the house with the police officers in order to calm the dogs down or crate them;
- the police refused the use of keys and rammed the residence instead;
- there was no people inside the house - the handcuffed plaintiff came to the house during his lunch break to let the dogs out - so the justification that somebody will "destroy the evidence" if there is any delay in opening the door is fake;
- that the smaller dog "never barked in her life", and that she disappeared from the upstairs room into the basement after the police entered the house - indicating that she would rather retreat than attack the officers and presents no danger to them;
So, great job, the 6th Circuit - encourage police officers to shoot dogs inside a residence on site, because they "moved or barked", and then justify the killing of a child or an adult that the dog covers with his body by claiming that the officer "felt threatened by a dog", and "did not see a human".
- taken in the light most favorable to the party asserting the injury (the plaintiffs), do the facts alleged in the complaint show the officer's conduct violated a constitutional right
- is the right clearly established.
- whether the officers' actions were reasonable and justifiable under the "totality of circumstances"; and
- whether officers are credible as witnesses,
- violated its own "2-prong test" on qualified immunity defense, and
- violated its own law as to how motions for summary judgment must be decided
and a jury trial was set for August 8, 2016, but then the case was stayed, at the request of the Plaintiffs, on a "Colorado River" abstention because of a parallel litigation:
Note that, even though the civil rights/wrongful death lawsuit of Aiyana is listed as "closed", it is closed only "for administrative and statistical purposes", but in reality it is only stayed:
Note that the case languished in state courts and in federal bankruptcy court for no fault of Aiyana's family:
In the civil rights case though, the officer was not out of hot water, and his attorneys resisted disclosure of the officer's official account, made by him within hours of the shooting and with a fresh memory, necessitating Aiyana's family to file a motion to compel production of that document, which production Officer Weekly opposed on contrived and non-meritorious reasons:
- that the officer is, allegedly, "not in possession" of his own statement;
- that the Plaintiff allegedly did not issue discovery request for that particular document, even though the document was subject to mandatory discovery exchange pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; and
- that the document, the account of the shooting, is allegedly the "work product" of third parties - the police department.
Here is the complaint in Aiyana's case that is stayed, not dismissed by the federal court, and here is the order of stay, over the opposition of Officer Weekly.
Here is the entire docket report in her civil rights/wrongful death case in federal court, obtained by me personally from Pacer.gov today.
Here is the shameful Answer by Officer Weekly raising "qualified immunity defense" for throwing a flash-grenade and shooting into the residence where a child was sleeping, so that the TV crew present get more "action" for their footage to sell it to the viewers.
- the Police officer's motion for a summary judgment;
- the girl's estate's and family's motion to compel production of the officer's just-after-the-shooting account of what occurred;
- the girl's estate's and family's motion to strike and preclude testimony by Officer Weekly's expert for non-compliance with discovery;
- the officer's two motions to preclude Aiyana's experts on police practices and on gun safety and ballistics from testifying before the jury as allegedly "irrelevant" -
All of it was about protecting a reality show star for A&E, police officer Joseph Weekly, from accountability for killing of a little girl on camera. There was also a question whether the flash-grenade was thrown, and the shooting occurred that killed the little girl because the officer was trying to impress and provide material for a TV series "The First 48".
And the practices of the police department who invited a TV crew to film a home raid upon unsuspecting people, with a child inside - where the child died as a result.
And, the dog case - a supposedly unconnected case - was to serve as a convenient vehicle to create a precedent, a court rule indicating, should the case return after a stay, that:
- a federal court, sitting in review of a motion for a summary judgment in a civil rights case litigating the use of force, and deadly force, by a police officer - against anybody - people, as well as pets - may rule on reasonableness on the issue of "qualified immunity" defense, even though the "qualified immunity defense" 2-prong test does not include the "reasonableness"/"justification" question and even though that question is within the jury's, and not the court's, power to decide
And, while the police raids and police killings are predominantly on the homes of minorities and of the minorities, do I have to wonder why all 4 of the judges who decided this case were white?
I will give these 4 white judges credit - they pulled their trick very cleverly.
The "dog" decision made on December 19, right before Christmas time, when people are united with their families, have some spare time on their hands, will be reading accounts in the media and will most certainly be enraged - enraged and concerned about their pets only, since most people are not literate in the law, and especially in federal civil rights litigation law, and will not see through the scheme.
Count on judges acting in collusion with a governmental defendant and ruling to protect the government.
Have them focus the public on pets, deflect the public from the fact that, through precedential power on the issue of the use of "reasonable" deadly force, this is actually also and primarily about people killed.
About children killed.
About the black little girl killed by a Michigan police on camera.
About a toddler injured by a similar flash-bang grenade assault by police in Georgia.