Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Police Are Still Shooting Our Dogs, and Here is What You Can Do About It.

The Sad Story of Precious

Click here to read and watch the Channel 7 report on the shooting of Precious.

Click here to read and watch the Channel 4 report on the shooting of Precious.

On Friday evening , May 23rd, in Northeast Washington, while a drug bust was in process in the house next door, Michael Bailey's six-year-old dog Precious, who had been with the family since she was 4 months old, was in her yard, tied on her leash to the fron porch. A MPD (Metropolitan Police Department) officer (Badge #431) in pursuit on foot of a drug suspect, ran past Precious' yard, when she started barking from underneath the front gate. The office stopped running, pulled out his firearm and shot at Precious twice, hitting her once. At that point, Michael's fiance Sloane grabbed Precious and held her under control between her legs and shouted "I have her." The officer ignored Sloane's please and yelled , "I'm going to get the bitch," and then shot Precious four more times while Sloane was still holding her. Sloane unleashed Precious to tend to her wounds, at which point Precious ran into the house, and up the stairs to her favorite spot, under Michale's bed, where she died right after. At the time there were about 30 people nearby, including children and elderly people, meaning that anyone of them could have been injured or killed. (Note: Only about three percent of officers' shots hit their target, according to a police official.)

The Washington Humane Society (WHS) was called and after the humane officer took a report, he took Precious' body away. But an hour later, after the WHS officer left, the police officer, in what could only be described as a deliberate act to cover up his shooting of Precious by making the situation look worse than it was, arrested Bailey saying that he had verbally assaulted one of the officers. The officer even wrote on the report that Bailey unleashed Precious on him, while the facts show otherwise.) Bailey admits that he was distraught over the cold-blooded shooting of his beloved dog, but said only such things as, "Why did he have to shoot my dog? How could this happen? The police didn't need to shoot my dog." Bailey says that he cooperated fully and the arrest was very low key. He went peacefully and spent the night in jail. He was given a June 17th court date for the disorderly conduct charge lodged against him. (Note: There are also allegations of racial slurs by the offcier, but these are not inlcuded here.)

Mr. Bailey is a disabled vet who served in the Air Force's military police unit, working with K-9's, which is where he developed his love of dogs. He says about his neighbors are dismayed and shocked, too, because Precious was known all over as a gentle, loving dog. Mr. Bailey cannot afford an attorney to pursue this matter. (Note: a request has been made through the Humane
Society of the United States and the Animal Law Section of the DC Bar for pro bono legal assistance.)

By way of background, in another incident in the area several months ago not involving Bailey, the same officer gained entry into Bailey's home incorrectly thinking there were drugs in there, and detained Bailey and Sloane downstairs. Hearing the commotion downstairs, Precious poked her head out at the top of the stairs and when she saw the officer, she started to run back under the bed. The office then took two shots at her, missing her. Later, when it was clear that the police had the wrong house, Bailey called Precious to him at the time and introduced her to another officer who was also there that time to show her that she was a gentle dog. The gun shot is still embedded in the staircase from that incident. It is suspected that this is why the police officer who shot Precious shouted "I'm going to get the bitch" this time.

If anyone knows of any additional material facts that should be included above, or has knowledge that any of the above facts are wrong, please post a comment below to that effect with information to substantiate those facts. In the meantime, If the above facts are true, this may be one of the worst examples of animal cruelty any of us have seen in the District in years. Cruelty to animals is a felony offense in the District of Columbia and police officers are not exempt from this law.

Click here for the story about another recent shooting of a dog in DC, Scooby, on Christmas eve.

By way of background, you should know:

- Blogger acknowledges that the above "facts" are presented from Mr. Bailey's perspective. However, until an independent, thorough investigation is completed, we will not know what the facts are from the officer's perspective. And the way the process is set up now, where the investigation will be done by a lieutenant in the same district as the officer who shot Precious, the public has no guarantee that such an investigation will ever take place. (See suggested actions, below) However, whatever the true facts are in this situation, the two recommendations for action would remain precisely the same.

- Blogger also fully recognizes that in the "fog" of a nearby criminal incident (such as the drug bust next door), there may be collateral damage involved because an officer's safety must be paramount. And he also recognizes that the overwhelming majority of MPD officers understand how to deal with and respect animals. However, these things should not excuse the actions of a few officers who may require proper training or individual counseling in order for them to carry out their duties to protect the public, and protect themselves at the same time. It also does not mean that those officers have the right to suspend their best judgment during stressful moments on the job.

- DC police officers kill about 12-15 dogs a year, many in the course of criminal incidents. However, by New York's standards, that is very high.

- DC police officers say that they have a right to shoot to kill a dog if they fear it will attack them. (In other words, they believe that they do not have to assess whether it is aggressive, they do not have to attempt to defuse the aggression, and they do not have to use any other means at their disposal to counter the aggression before they use their firearms.)

- The Department of Justice (DoJ) had DC on its watch list of police jurisdictions with records of excessive use of force by its officers from 2001 to just recently.

- The most disconcerting thing about incidents such as what happened to Precious, besides the death of a beloved dog, is the tarnishing of the credibility of all MPD officers because of the actions of a very few. Blogger hopes that people understand that the actions of those few officers, either because of lack of training, fear of dogs, or maliciousness, should in no way reflect on the other 4000 dedicated and trained police officers, many of whom are just as appalled at situations like this as we are.

- The DoJ's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DC requires that all uses of force (i.e., shootings) be investigated by a professional Firearms Investigation Team (FITs) so that a through, independent investigation can be made. DC has made one exception to that, when dogs are shot and killed even if people are nearby). In the cases of dogs, the investigation is done by a lieutenant in the same district as the officer who did the shooting. Click here for the full Agreement and click here for the Report of Findings that lead to the Agreement and MOU. (Note,the Agreement is also known as a MOA, Memorandum of Agreement.)

- DC police officers have received little or no training on how to handle dog situations. However, Police Chief Cathy Lanier has recently ordered that a training program be instituted, and one is currently in development for new recruits and current officers.

- Blogger made a statement before the DC City Council on February 25th about the police shooting dogs. At the end of the statement, City Council Member Mendelson thanked Blogger for his statement and said that were it not for his statement, they would not have been aware of this problem.

Please note that Blogger has no connection to anyone involved in this incident. His involvement stems purely from his concern about the plight of our animals in DC, in this case, the plight at the hands of a few DC government officials, who may mean well, but who are unprepared or unqualified to do their jobs.


What you can do (even if you do not reside in DC) to help bring an end to this avoidable killing of our dogs by the people who are supposed to protect us:

1- Write Police Chief Cathy Lanier and request that all uses of firearms by police officers against dogs --- starting with the incident involving Precious --- be investigated by the independent, professional Firearms Investigation Teams (FIT) as the DoJ's MOU requires, and not by a local lieutenant. Chief Lanier's address is: Chief of Police, Metropolitan Police Department, 300 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 (e-mail: cathy.lanier@dc.gov.) In your letter, please acknowledge that you understand that the safety of officers must be paramount and thank her for her insistence that officers be trained on how to handle animals, but express to her your concern that all investigations must be thorough in order to solve the problems that still exist in at least a small segment of the police force. Also in your letter, express your dissatisfaction with the police officer's action to arrest Mr. Bailey for disorderly conduct simply because he acted as any person would after a police officer shot his dog in cold blood, as officer #431 did to Precious. Finally, ask Chief Lanier to publish as soon as possible a General Order that deals with police officers handling animals, and that includes a reminder that officers can be prosecuted for acts of animal cruelty they commit off or on duty. (A letter to Chief Lanier is shown at the bottom of this posting.) Click here (or see next postings) for a letter to Chief Lanier. Also, please ask Chief Lanier to forward any substantiated findings of animal cruelty by officer #431 to the U.S. Attorney's officer for criminal prosecution.)

2- Write Mayor Adrian Fenty and express your outrage at the killing of our dogs by the DC police (as well as the Department of Health in carrying out its animal control responsibilities "in the interest of public safety"). Demand that someone in his office be charged with monitoring the situation regarding animals and to make recommendations to improve the situation. Recommend to him that he establish a public Mayor's Alliance for Animals to advise him on issues that affect the welfare of animals in the District. The Mayor's contact information is: DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty: Fax: 202-727-0505; Call Center Phone: 727-1000; E-mail: adrian.fenty@dc.gov; address: Mayor of the District of Columbia, One Judiciary Square, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20001



3- Write or call your city council member and ask them to use their authorities to train and equip the police force to deal with animals, require that investigations of dog shootings be done by the professional FIT's, and that the MPD issue a General Order on the Handling of Animals in general. Also, ask them to oppose the Bill 17-89 (animal protection act amendments) until the provision giving the mayor the authority to declare any breed of dog a dangerous dog is removed because if it is left in, this will in effect give police the license to repeat what they did to Precious with impunity.) Click here for the web site for the city council members. No matter what ward you are from, or even if your are from out of state, please be sure to send a copy of your e-mails to Phil Mendelson (PMENDELSON@DCCOUNCIL.US) who is the chair of the Committee on Public Safety, which oversees the MPD, City Council Member Mary Cheh (MCheh@DCCOUNCIL.US), who is on the same committee and is clearly the champion for animals on the city council, and City Council Member Jim Graham (
jgraham@dccouncil.us), who sponsored the law that makes animal cruelty in the District of Columbia a felony.



4- Write to the Washington Humane Society (WHS) and request that they undertake an investigation of animal cruelty by the officer who brutally shot Precious. Cruelty against animals is a felony in the District of Columbia and the WHS shares the responsibility for animal cruelty investigations with the MPD. The contact information for the Washington Humane Society is: : Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO, Washington Humane Society, 7319 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20012, (202) 683-1829, e-mail: LLaFontaine@washhumane.org
(Click here for letter to Washington Humane Society asking for an investigaiton of the incident of the shooting of Precious.)


5- Write a letter of condolence and support to Michael Bailey (or leave a message here and we will forward it to him). His address is: Mr. Michael Bailey, 5304 Clay Terrace NE, Washington, DC 20019. Or call him at (202) 398-6504 .


6- If you believe that excessive use of force by some police officers is still a problem in DC, write to the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and ask them to either reinstate their recently suspended monitoring under their 2001 MOU with the District or initiate a new investigation based on what the shootings of dogs tells us about the adequacy of the measures already taken by the MPD to prevent excessive use of force. The person to write to there is:
MS. SHANETTA Y. BROWN CUTLAR
Special Counsel
Special Litigation Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66400
Washington, D.C. 20035-6400
202-514-0195

7. If you are concerned about the continued shootings of dogs in the District and what that tells you about the adequacy of training and counseling of police officers regarding the use of force, you should file a formal citizen's complaint with the MPD's Office of Complaints, which was established in 2001 as the result of the MOU with the Department of Justice. The complaints can be filed with the Executive Director of that office (a former Assistant U.S. Attorney) Mr. Phil Eure at the following address: 1400 I Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington DC 20005. (Phone: 202- 727-3838.) You do not have to be a party to any incident in order to file a complaint because as a citizen of the District, you have sufficient standing to do so. The web site for the Office of Complaints is www.policecomplaints.dc.gov



8. Write to Stephen Tschida at Channel 7 and thank him for his reporting of the incident about Precious as well as his previous reporting about what some DC officials are doing to our dogs. Were it not for his dedicated reporting, DC officials would be not be held accountable for what they are doing to our dogs. Stephen's e-mail address is: Stephen@wjla.com. Click here to read and watch the Channel 7 report on the shooting of Precious.

Also, Write to Channel 4 (NBC) and thank them for their 5/30 report on this tragic incident. You can contact NBC's website by clicking here. Click here to read and watch then Channel 4 report on the shooting of Precious.

9- If you do not reside in DC, click here to go to a posting that describes what you do to help bring justice for Precious and to prevent this from happening in DC again, as well as in your own communities.

One final comment. The officer who shot Precious probably thought he would get away with it for five reasons:
(1) He knows that officers get no training on how to handle dogs (
we already heard his commander essentially admit that on TV) and so the blame could be placed on the lack of training;
(2) Some DC
police have said that their officers can shoot a dog if they say they feared that it would bite them;
(3) The officers know that the investigations will be done by their colleagues back at the station;
(4) The officers know that the news cameras never
venture beyond the boundaries of the more fortunate DC areas; and
(5) Until now, the MPD
never had a police chief who was as sensitive to the plight of animals as much as Chief Lanier is to the plight of the public and the officer corps itself, and a stern, but fair, executive on top of that.

If officer #431 thought these things, he would have been right, until recently, that is.


Please help bring justice about for Precious and help save other dogs (maybe your own) and people in DC in the future by taking some of the above actions now.

Thank you.

6 comments:

Velvet said...

I've been a long time hater of our police force. "Protect and Serve" means "Protect and serve ourselves."

I don't even know where to begin with this, but I'm disgusted. I've written on the topic of our police and their incompetence for many years now. You can type "dc cops suck" into the search box on my blog and find those posts, going back several years.

In Dupont we have a dog park email chain, I will be sure to forward this link.

Blogger said...

RE: Above comment from Velvet.

Thank you for your comment, Velvet. Although my intention is to publish comments that will help us resolve the problem of the police shooting our dogs, your comment helps us accomplish that by demonstrating the anger of the community about what a few police officers are doing. Chief Lanier, the Mayor, Mr. Phil Eure (of the Police Complaints Board), and the City Council members need to know how angry the community is about these things and how we want something done about it. Fortunately, I myself have had very few negative experiences with the police, no more than two times in the 30 years I have lived in the District, but I have heard and read about many who were not so fortunate, like yourself. I truly believe (or hope) that we are talking about a very small minority of either untrained or malicious police officers, and Chief Lanier and others need our help in singling them out and getting them proper training and counseling, or getting them fired. I got started in this advocacy work by my own anger at what I saw, and that anger still exists. But what I am finding out is that most of the police officers I have seen and worked with on these matters are just as angry as if not angrier than I am. I was also told by someone very high up in the police force (whom I shall leave unnamed) that in cases like this, where officer #431 shot a dog the way he did (a female dog at that), that his colleagues on the police force will let him know how they feel about it, and he may never lve it down. But, understandably, that is not good enough for me, or you it appears, and so I will work to make sure #431 is held accountable for his despicable action and that these shootings of our dogs by coward police officers stops. I did not know of Precious until this past Tuesday, but that does not prevent any of us from using her memory to solve the problem for the rest of us in DC, and our dogs. And if some cops are doing this to our dogs, I can only imagine what they might be doing to some people.

Thank you for your comment and for letting us know your feelings on this. In the meantime, I would urge you to file a complaint with the Police Complaints Board (see posting for info) and with the Washington Humane Society for them to investigate this act of animal cruelty. Only people who are angry about this, as you and I are, will take the time to do these things.

Erika said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blogger said...

Response to Erika:

Thank you for raising that point, Erika. I will modify the posting to reflect what I write here. I have three suggestions.

First, with regard to your not living in DC, you may not reside here but the fact is that you are in effect a citizen of the District. All Americans are "citizens" of DC because this is the nation's capital. Therefore, you should go down the entire list of the suggestions in the posting and decide which items best suit how you feel, and then act accordingly. You are under no obligation to state where you are from, but it would help our cause if our officials our knew what citizens of other places feel about us. In particular, I would write to MPD Chief Lanier, and city council members Mendelson (the chair of the committee on public safety, which oversees the MPD), and Mary Cheh, who is the chief advocate for animals on the city council. (see suggestion 3 for their e-mail addresses.)

Second, you might consider writing your own congressional representatives and senators, and tell that that you are appalled that this is going on in the nation's capital and ask them to file a complaint with Mayor Fenty on behalf of the citizens of your state to bring this barbaric activity to a halt. Many congressional representatives live in DC and some serve on committees that provide oversight to the District. Write a suggested letter for your representatives and senators and send that to them to sign and send off. I will post a suggested letter later.

Third, you can take the lessons from what we are trying to accomplish in DC and apply them to your own cities, counties and states. If you dig deeply enough, you will find similar cruelty elsewhere, but much of it does not make the press, as was the case in DC until just recently. The DC government now knows they are being watched. In Prince Georges' Country in Maryland, for instance, just over the border from DC, this kind of blood bath has been going on almost daily ever since they banned from the city pit bull dogs and mixes and look-alikes a few years ago. For instance, read this recent account of an incident there. http://uk.truveo.com/Police-Raid-Wrong-Address-Kill-Couples-Dog/id/787942671

By the way, the police shooting our dogs is not the only problem we have with animals (dogs) and our government here. Until just recently when a new head of our local humane society took over, on order from our Department of Health, all pit bull strays were killed in our animal shelter, puppies and pregnant mothers alike, because they were never not evaluated for adoptability. But that reprieve is sure to come to an end if a bill now pending before our city council gets approved. That bill would give the mayor the authority to declare any breed of dog he wants a dangerous dog, which could very well mean that the police would be "authorized " to deal with them as they wish. (See www.oppose1789.blogspot.com) In the meantime, our Department of Health, which is responsible for animal control, is ordering the execution of our dogs simply for biting other dogs, even non-serious bites, as long as vindictive owners of the injured animals say the want the biting dogs killed. (See www.savesidney.blogspot.com or www.savebubba.blogspot.com.) The list goes on.

Thank you for caring about the situation here in DC. The more people who speak up, the faster we will bring this bloodshed to an end.

Erika said...

Thanks Blogger - These are all great suggestions for anybody living in the surrounding DC counties.

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