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Law Enforcement: Video of SWAT Team Killing Dogs in Front of Child During Pot Raid Stirs Outrage

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #631)
Consequences of Prohibition

A February SWAT raid in Columbia, Missouri, in which police shot two dogs, killing one of them, in front of a Columbia man and his terrified wife and seven-year-old child is stirring outrage months later -- after video of the raid was released this week. Police in Columbia are reporting death threats as the video goes viral and Internet message boards grow bloated with angry, outraged comments.

As of Friday morning , the YouTube video had been watched more than 500,000 times. The Columbia Tribune article linked to below contained a whopping 593 comments Thursday night, the vast majority critical of police, many downright hostile.

The SWAT team hit the home of Jonathan Whitworth, 25, with a search warrant alleging he was holding a major amount of marijuana and was a drug dealer. They found a pipe, a grinder, and a small amount of marijuana. Along the way, they shot the dogs, killing one of them, shouted profanities at the frightened family, and generally behaved as if they were Special Forces raiding a Taliban hide-out.

Police claimed they shot and killed a pit bull because it was "acting in an uncontrollably aggressive manner," but while the video shows barking, it shows no growling. No reason was given for shooting and wounding the second dog, a corgi.

According to the Columbia Tribune, police said they were unaware that a child resided at the home. Between the bad intelligence indicating they had a major drug bust and the bad intelligence regarding who lived at the target residence, the raid would seem to suggest a force gone lax in its procedures and a local judiciary inclined to rubber stamp search warrant applications.

Jonathan Whitworth was arrested on marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia charges, and recently pleaded guilty to the paraphernalia charge. Now, he can concentrate on whether to file a lawsuit against the police department. "Their focus right now is to get this behind them," said Whitworth attorney Jeff Hilbrenner said. "Obviously, this was a traumatic event for his wife and son. A final decision has not been made, but they are evaluating all of their options."

The Columbia Police say they are conducting an internal review. It is worth nothing that in 2004, Columbia voted to make adult marijuana law offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. Somebody should mention that to the police department and its out-of-control SWAT team.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Dave A (not verified)

Is it true that there were also Child Endangerment charges filed against the parents? B/C if there are, I think the Police force should get slapped with them too; I think what the SWAT team did is far more dangerous...

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 2:01pm Permalink
Aaron (not verified)

These sick individuals parading themselves about as defenders of the people need to answer for just whom they are "protecting" us from. Innocent civilian, politician, or criminal, we are all subject to the same horrendous abuses that occur daily in this country. All faith has been lost by many in the forces sworn to protect our rights, our freedoms, our very lives, yet they continue to operate autonomously with little to no regard for the will of the people.

I am simply disgusted. Where will this end? When will we put these bastards in check and force them to hold to the standards WE set for THEM?

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 2:28pm Permalink
TrebleBass (not verified)

I'm just glad so many people have seen the video. If only we could document every single raid ever done in the country so that people would more directly understand what they're supporting when they say things like "but marijuana is bad for you, why would we ever want it to be legal?", and "not potheads ever go to jail. prohibition of marijuana is reasonable".

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 3:30pm Permalink
Caroline Ostini (not verified)

In reply to by TrebleBass (not verified)

After watching this video, let me tell you a story. We were raided w/o a seach warrant for what the police said was pot. Whoopie, one oz that is LEGAL in CA and I had a medical mj card, my husband was arrested and charged w/ pot. However his case was dropped, then last yr, he was stopped as our tags for our truck hadnt come in yet from DMV, his truck impounded and they found 2 oz this time of pot.Arrested again and now going to state prison over it. Pot is a weed grown in the soil. Legalize the damn shit and let CA breath again and stop putting people that are LEGAL to be here in jail for pot. Cops get off the hook if they are busted for damn near everything, and the people that have pot for legal use get kicked to the big house. What a waste and cops are liars too.

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 5:15pm Permalink
centex (not verified)

every american sees this video. it is unthinkable that this actually happens in the USA. i sincerely hope these cops, the judge that signed the warrant and anybody else directly involved in this loses their job.

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 3:47pm Permalink
Bill Smeathers (not verified)

They shot the dog infront of a child! Read what these scum bags did to my child at my house when they raided it! August 15, 2007,At about 4:45 am, my home was busted into by "law enforcement".Done with a dirty (rubber stamp) search warrant issued by a judge who was in on certain acts of deviant sexual behaviour in the presence of a child. They destroyed our property. Vandalized every room in the house. All dressed in black. One of these courageous cops went into my (then) 9 year old daughters room while she slep and a couple of feet from her face. Shined a flashlight in her eyes and shocked her out of a sound sleep with a pistol in her face! Keep in mind this was all for a glass pipe! During the course of this raid my daughter was permitted to go to the bathroom, and in doing so she looked into her bed room and witnessed one of the cops in the corner of her room over her dirty laundry basket with a pair of her soiled panties up to his face sniffing them! She is now nearly 12 years old, and is presently in a mental ward due to the things done to her by these perverted scum bags. She has sucidial tendencies. She has issues with he underwear that would make a maggot vomit! Everytime she sees a cop she becomes hysterical This is the kind of law enfoircement we have. Who are these scum bags?" Judge James Hauser, Stephenson County, Freeport, Illinois. The Officers are all with the Illilnois State Police and a unit called S.L.A.N.T.from Rockford, Illlinois. The numbers after their name is their police badge number. Andrew Schroeder #9696. Scott Ellefson #9710. Sgt. Meiborg #3121. Sgt. Lehman #3269. Officer Gately #9779. Officer Jerry, 9837. Officer Madigan #9699.They all knew there was a small child in the home and two handicapped adults. Judge Hauser issued the warrant anyway.Without question.Hauser later attempted to back police by permitting Andrew Schjroeder #9696 to file his offical report excluding the presence of the child in the home! They were in fact collecting childrens soiled undergarments for the judges personal trophy room! This is the kind of scum we have carring guns and wearing badges! And what they best do when they are allowed to run amuck!

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 3:54pm Permalink
McD (not verified)

In reply to by Bill Smeathers (not verified)

Did you know that the Outreach Co-ordinator for Oregon NORML, Russ Bellville, is looking for stories like this? He's collecting them as a result of the Columbia (dog) shooting to demonstrate the dangerously high cost of (cannabis) prohibition. He's an excellent writer, so I'm sure he can make your story worthy of some of the suffering it's caused you. If you haven't already, you can e-mail him at (-at- = @).

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 4:45pm Permalink

The first amendment gives you the right to contact the Columbia, Missouri SWAT team and the city attorney's office with your views.

Yes, thousands of emails may be ignored, but add dozens of well reasoned, articulate faxes and letters a day and you have their attention. Of course, add your letterhead if you are an attorney.

Remember: Call. Write. But be polite!

Columbia Police Department
600 East Walnut
Columbia, MO 65201-4491
573-874-7652 / FAX: 573-874-3142

see also:

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 4:04pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by Historicus (not verified)

We're far past the point where we should be polite about these atrocities. It's time to be angry, furious, and let them have it with both barrels (verbally, of course)! If we continue to be polite, we will polite ourselves right into a totally tyrannical police state, we will be slaves to the jackboots. So scream, yell, swear, and vigorously defend our freedom and our right to choose whatever intoxicant floats our boats without any hassle from the state.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 3:32am Permalink
Christopher M… (not verified)

This video made me so fucking mad killing an innocent animal and scarring this child for life this is fucking sick i get so mad watching shit like this i threw my phone at the wall honestly if i were this guy or the wife or any of them i would have tried and killed them for killing my dog and putting my family through this or i would have at least spit in thier face i would try to hunt them down if thats possible and kill them i love animals and children but i especially have a huge spot for animals.

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 4:44pm Permalink
Ives (not verified)

In reply to by Christopher M… (not verified)

I actually had a similar thought. When watching this I thought about what I would have done in his situation. I am not a violent person AT ALL but if I saw that they had shot my innocent dog dead in front of my family for no apparent reason plus that they were only there for a little weed to begin with I honestly don't think I would be able to control myself. All the anger shock confusion sadness frustration rage that would cause... that would be it. They probably would then shoot me too.

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 10:54am Permalink
Uzz Baldrin (not verified)

The cops in this raid are the bad guys, subhuman! To engage in this type of force over mj is outrageous, period. I hope the family get's a good lawyer and the dollar amount they are awarded is in the 7-figure range. The taxpayers of Columbia MO could be in for a big surprise because of the excessive force of their subhuman SWAT team.

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 7:42pm Permalink
David S. Schne… (not verified)

There's a showdown coming in this country, and it's coming in the form of a Constitutional crisis.

Fri, 05/07/2010 - 10:55pm Permalink
Anonymous27550 (not verified)

cops raided my ex wifes house as i pulled in her drive they maced dogs on a chain
and shoved 11 yr old kid around
when cop showed up after the fact <30mins after start of raid>

Sat, 05/08/2010 - 12:42pm Permalink
McD (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous27550 (not verified)

Did you know that the Outreach Co-ordinator for Oregon NORML, Russ Bellville, is looking for stories like this? He's collecting them as a result of the Columbia (dog) shooting to demonstrate the dangerously high cost of (cannabis) prohibition. He's an excellent writer, so I'm sure he can make your story worthy of some of the suffering it's caused you. If you haven't already, you can e-mail him at (-at- = @).

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 4:49pm Permalink
Clyde Null Jr. (not verified)

After watching the video I can understand why people get upset with the way police invade someone's privacy. Even with a search warrant. Warrants are much to easy to get now days , all because all they have to do is tell a judge supposed things about the people they want to search , usually without any roof or flimsy made up "proof" ust to get their way and inside someone's place. This to me is totally against the constitution and bill of rights.
Maybe the police should be made read these sacred manuscripts and understand what they mean. Shoot make them take a test on them even. If they were as gun ho abut those great pieces of literature as they are about playing cop then they may not be so daarn rambuncious and let people live as tey see fit not the way the government says they should. Who needs anyone telling them how they should do things? is much too big and getting bigger with each passing day. If we were a country of children, then I might be able to see it .. God Bless America !!!

Sat, 05/08/2010 - 10:59pm Permalink
Shell McMillian (not verified)

That's how you do it ,shake up the doper's home and teach that kid dope is wrong . Do you think that's the lesson that child got from this ? I bet not! Evil is all around us , and we are paying them . Show your neighbor's get out and vote . Libertarian is the only way were going to get anything changed. Both parties are way to corrupt to get the dope laws changed . Far more harm has been done in the name of these drug laws than any dope has ever done.

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 10:55am Permalink
billy jack (not verified)

Can't believe they kill someone's dog over a pipe and little bit of pot. Police powers have gotten way out of hand. Time to change policy.

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 6:11pm Permalink
wow (not verified)

Wow! I think I know every single one of those loose cannons. Yes I do, I went to school with them. He11 we all did. Just look at them now, and we get to pay for these lames to go in and scare the crap out of a mans whole family. Shoot his dog? Come on. They were trigger happy roid using jocks. (that's your police force)... Play some playstation, Call of Duty, and chill out
And they wonder why this generation HATES the police. NEW POLICY!!

Thu, 05/13/2010 - 1:37am Permalink
Carlin (not verified)


Thu, 05/13/2010 - 6:41pm Permalink
Thomas Jefferson (not verified)

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Wed, 12/22/2010 - 7:56pm Permalink
Ives (not verified)

This made me cry and my hands are still shaking in anger.

What a worthless scared little POS low life that pig must be to even feel threatened by a domesticated INNOCENT little dog let alone shoot it to death because it's barking (probably because it was shocked, scared, confused, trying to protect it's master and territory from unfamiliar intruders who are yelling and stomping around like any animal including any person would react!!!)

If whoever killed the dog can even still sleep at night, then the shameless trigger-happy sociopathic coward should not be in a department originally intended to protect. If this is how they taught them in police academy to handle such a situation, then the whole system should be scrapped and overhauled immediately. The fact that there is no sympathy, apology, admission of mistake or fault in a formal statement by the police (at least not mentioned here) is frustrating and frightening."Internal investigation" means brainstorming ways to downplay it and get away with this crap. Well no investigation should be needed since It's all on VIDEO!!! WTF!?

If you can not apply basic logic to situations, relate with people on a human level, with other living things as living things and you have a gun, I don't care what they call your department or what you say you do, you are the enemy and you can only do harm, no good. How can the cops not see how what they are doing is a billion times more harmful, dangerous, unlawful and morally worse then this guy smoking weed at home in his PJs?!!??!?! 

Do they honestly think this is justified in ANY way?!?? I think they were probably relieved the guy even had any weed in the house. He could be just the occasional marijuana user IN THE PRIVACY OF HIS OWN HOME not endangering or harming anyone or anything. They probably got an anonymous tip from this guys ex girlfriend or nosy neighbor saying he was a big scary drug dealer and so the cops went along without question out of boredom? sadism? To fulfill their quota? Innocent until proven guilty, really? No.

If someone barges into your home, shoots your dogs, kills one, beats you, threatens you and your family, swinging a loaded gun around a small child and harasses you they are a criminal and a horrible person.... unless they have a badge. Wait no still a horrible person.


REPLACE POLICE GUNS WITH TRANQUILIZER DART GUNS OR RUBBER BULLETS ONLY - something. No need or excuse for them to kill. ever.

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 10:31am Permalink
FTP (not verified)

If someone kills a police dog, does it not hold the same penalty as if they had killed the human police officer.  The police should be held to the same standards and penalties as everybody else.  You cannot ask these criminals (the police) to have mercy and see the error of their ways.  They have no humanity or individual thought of their own.  With their thug tactics and mentality swift, firm, and concise consequences are in order.

Wed, 01/05/2011 - 6:12am Permalink
Viking (not verified)

How stupid! What is the point of removing the video from her, when a 10 year old can pull it up on Utube? Bottom line's at best sociopathic behavior and people wonder why some teenagers do the things they do? Who are the good guys? What is the point in raising our children to respect authority figures when law endorsement display this type of behavior...No compassion? Seriously, take a long hard look at this video and their behavior and ask yourself why the US has so many problems. Perhaps it is time to clean up our own back yard before we spend trillions on cleaning up the Middle East ?
Sun, 01/27/2013 - 1:26am Permalink

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