Family Sues in Missouri Dog-Shooting SWAT Raid

The Columbia, Missouri, family whose dogs were shot during a Columbia Police SWAT raid in February, video of which went viral on the Internet, filed a federal civil lawsuit Monday against the City of Columbia and 13 other defendants in US Western District Court in Jefferson City.

(click link above to view)
The raid, in which police expected to find a large quantity of marijuana and other evidence of drug dealing, turned up a miniscule amount of marijuana and a pot pipe. Jonathan Whitworth was originally charged with possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and second-degree child endangerment, but in a plea agreement, pleaded guilty to the paraphernalia count, and the other charges were dropped.

The suit was filed by Columbia attorneys Milt Harper and Jeff Hilbrenner on behalf Jonathan and Brittany Whitworth and her seven-year-old son. It alleges that SWAT team members broke down the door, discharged weapons as they entered and again as they shot and killed one dog and wounded the other. It also alleges than Jonathan Whitworth was kicked by an officer as he lay on the floor at gunpoint, and that Brittany Whitworth and her child were held at gunpoint sitting on the floor in view of the child's dead dog.

"Defendants had no reason to use deadly force or any other force upon entering the Whitworth home," the complaint charges. "Defendants were all armed with assault weapons and side arms and other weapons. Jonathan Whitworth, Brittany Whitworth, and P. M. [the child] were not armed, were not violent, were not resisting and were no threat to Defendants or anyone else. The two pet dogs were no threat to anyone and there was no reason to use assault weapons on those two animals. Defendants, under color of law, deprived each Plaintiff of rights secured under the Constitution and laws of the United States. Defendants conspired to deprive each Plaintiff of rights secured under the Constitution and laws of the United States. Defendants refused or failed to prevent the deprivation of Plaintiffs' rights secured under the Constitution and laws of the United States."

The lawsuit seeks restitution for bullet hole and door damage to the Whitworth home, as well as medical and veterinary expenses for the dead and wounded dogs. It is filed against the officers who were on the scene.

"This is all about demanding professionalism from our law enforcement agencies," Harper said Monday. "I think when they considered the 7-year-old and the fact that he had to have counseling, pay vet bills for an injured dog and the loss of another, along with repairs to the home and the trauma of that night, they made the decision that this needed to be done," Harper said.

"Our department will discuss the matter with our risk management office and legal office and be able to comment further once we've had a chance to do that," Columbia police spokeswoman Officer Jessie Haden told the Columbia Tribune Monday afternoon. "Whatever we're able to discuss publicly and legally, we will. This incident has received an enormous amount of attention locally, and it is our intention to make the public as informed, with accurate information, as we can, without compromising the legal process."

The raid and heated public response to it has led to repeated public hearings in Columbia, and the department moved quickly to review and revamp its policy regarding the use of the SWAT team on search warrants. But it will likely have to pay for its errors in the Whitworth raid.

Columbia, MO
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

this is completely outrageous

Any law enforcement officer and the agency responsible for this act of animal cruelty, invasion of privacy and complete waste of taxpayers dollars should be put in jail, fired from their jobs and made to pay ALL costs incurred by this poor family. Who the hell cares if they had some pot and a pipe in the house? So does half of the country! This is ridiculous, disgusting and makes me sick. No wonder so many have lost respect for law enforcement in the US.

Power and prohibition

This is what prohibition is all about. These guys are thrill seekers with the best tickets in town. They can do what ever they like and get away with it. The cops involved won't get anything more than a slap on the wrists for this. Prohibition is a crime and the police are criminals. Prohibition has to end completely, everywhere, now!

i,m glad to see this suit come forward i back this family 100%

i,m glad to see that this family is sueing the police and swat over the raid.the swat thugs terroized the family,shot the dogs infront of a minor child which tantamounts to child endangerment.there was no need to shoot the dogs.i am calling for the resignation of ken burton police cheif and calling for the resignation of the officers that shot the dogs and calling for their prosecution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! for animal abuse,animal cruelty,animal neglect,aand for child endangerment.

borden's picture

We're not sure if Burton is

We're not sure if Burton is personally to blame. The SWAT team procedures were in place a long time before he relatively recently took office. Since the incident he has done some good things like support know your rights efforts like the 10 Rules for Dealing with Police movie, and has expressed support for legalizing marijuana. We are unsatisfied with the changed in SWAT team policy to date, but they are real changes.

McD's picture

Lost Thread

I've lost track here: what's this post in response or reference to?

Narco Cops = Drug War Profiteers: STOP THEM!

Its obvious from the monies that local cops draw have corrupted their morals... just read of the joy with which they crow about a "jackpot" when they get more monies from the feds.

 

"Two Texas law enforcement agencies have thicker wallets after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in San Antonio turned over a record $4 million in drug proceeds."

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/state/dea_turns_over_4_million_in_drug_...

 

The horrific thing is that our police have withdrawn from our community, and ensconced themselves in armored SWAT apparatus... preventing true policing and trust with its citizens, all the while rushing headlong into a full military-style assault on US citizens.

 

Stop Law Enforcement's Addiction to Drug Profits!! Its disgusting. In our current model of drug prohibition, our Narco-Cops are obscene Drug WAR PROFITEERS.

After rescheduling cannabis

After rescheduling cannabis federally and prohibiting SWAT use without proof of lethal danger, we need to demand regular periodic mental evaluation for all public servants, including police, judicial and elected representatives. This war mentality where the public is dehumanized to rationalize cruelty has to be stopped. Protect and SERVE needs to be understood by Civil SERVants.

What Linda said

Reads like poetry. Ditto

Swat Raids / Family Pets Shot Unnecessarily

Increasingly there are reports of police shooting family dogs during raids when it is not necessary; one has to wonder if some police are sadistic, delight in cruelty. Police that shoot family pets unnecessarily, should have to submit to psychological examinations.

News reports of abusive SWAT Team raids on Americans' homes are beginning to mirror in many respects the police/military raids in Northern Ireland 1975-1995. Belfast police raids increasingly involved military styled police to abate ordinary crimes. Amidst expanding bloodshed, Irish “Catholic political activists” in 1991-gained possession of a British Government study that concerned: how to control civilian populations by integrating military forces with civilian police activities; that is now happening in America. The thrust of the British study was how to Control “civilian populations” through “misinformation, intimidation and other conditioning” to cause a population to both fear and accept increasing militarized police involvement in their lives; to cause less "public resistance" when persons are arrested in communities deemed undesirable by government.

Subsequently through 1995 and the early 2000’s UK documents were leaked to the Republic of Ireland and British press that showed several prior Northern Ireland police raids on civilian homes involved British Intelligence and were done to falsely arrest political activists and in some cases, raids were believed cover for British political assassinations. One of those leaked documents involved a British operation called “Steak Knife”; that information may be accessed by searching: The “Steak Knife” affair and Britain’s dirty war in Northern Ireland

At: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/aug2003/irel-a09.shtml

The puppycide is a tactic to inflict mental anguish

That's all it is or ever was.

That is the hope in killing your best friend, in cold blood,right in front of you and your family. It's intended to traumatize.

Any "furtive movement" could result in a legal violent reply.

good luck brother

god bless you John and your family. hit those sons of bitches where it hurts!

Shocking video was replayed on MSNBC very recently, July 2013



The shocking video was replayed on MSNBC very recently, on a story about SWAT forcable entries, with dogs usually executed as an aside, becoming commonplace in Amerika.

I was nauseated just by HEARING THE TERRIFIED ANIMAL'S TORMENT until the SADISTIC rotten cop KILLED IT with more shots.


The ONLY solution to these acts is to FIRE the Police Chief even if he has to paid off to slink away.


Is the ASPCA cowed by "official department procedure" stamp of approval?

Torture of animals at taxpayer expense happens every day.

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