Hartford pays family $885,000 after police killed their St. Bernard

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City officials in Hartford, Connecticut have agreed to pay a family $885,000 to compensate them for a 2006 incident in which police fatally shot their St. Bernard in their yard. On Monday, the Hartford City Council settled the 11-year legal battle involving two police officers who entered the family’s partially fenced yard without a warrant and fatally shot one of the family’s two dogs when it growled and ran toward them.

According to the Hartford Courant, Hartford Police Sergeants Anthony Pia and Johnmichael O’Hare entered the backyard of homeowner Glen Harris in 2006 after receiving a false tip about weapons having been stashed in an abandoned car during an anti-gang crackdown. The two officers shot the dog, named Seven moments after Harris’ 12-year-old daughter returned home from school and let the dogs out into the backyard. The child witnessed her dog’s shooting, and according to court records suffered emotional trauma – becoming suicidal after seeing one of her two pets dogs killed.

Harris sued the police for illegally entering his property, but lost the case in 2008. His attorney, Jon Schoenhorn, appealed- stating this tragedy happened to an innocent family.

“There was no abandoned car. There were no firearms. I want to emphasize that all they found was a homeowner who happened to live in the North End of Hartford who had a 12 year old girl playing with her dog in the backyard,” Schoenhorn told Fox News.

In September 2016, the case was retried; this time the family prevailed and the jury awarded $202,000 to the Harris family against the two officers, including punitive damages adding up to $885,000.  The police officers were indemnified. Glen Harris’ daughter, referred to in legal records as “K”, because of her age is all grown up now, but still suffers the emotional trauma.

“We have warrants for a reason. We have the constitution for a reason and sometimes the police mess up and sometimes as a result a municipality is going to have to pay out for that mistake,” said Schoenhorn.

(Photo of St. Bernard is not Seven – photo from Pinterest)

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16 replies
    • Sherry says:

      Amen, girl! I LOVE LOVE this! Finally a court evidencing a dog’s value instead of minimizing it! Maybe police will learn a lesson if you hit them where it hurts like this. It’s about time!! YAY

  1. Stephen Lee Phillips says:

    Just too bad they weren’t imprisoned, too!
    Well done, citizen jurors: You’ve dispensed greater justice than ANY judge I’ve ever heard of!

  2. Kathleen Drude says:

    It’s good to see a family finally prevailed in a case against police who shot their dog without reason! They had no right to be where they were! The fact that the daughter saw her dog get shot will stay with her forever! I’m sure she still has nightmares about it! Many times I’ve had dogs brought into my hospital that were shot by cops! Just because you have guns doesn’t mean you can shoot whatever you want!

  3. Tracy Whitcomb says:

    Thank You, I believe that those two Cops should have to pay for some of this since they are the ones who caused this.

  4. Barkley's Mom says:

    I’ve always said the only way to stop the killing of our pets is to sue their butts. The settlement will never take away the nightmare these officers inflicted on this family and a young girl, but at least it makes them sit up and pay attention!

  5. maxiemom says:

    GOOD! It sickens me when I hear some people put cops on a pedestal they don’t belong on because too many of them think nothing of taking the life of a family pet, whether it’s a dog, puppy, or even a cat or a kitten, or, let’s not forget, a group of kittens living in someone’s backyard, and, like this case, in front of a child or children.

    Every time cops kill a family pet, they need to be held accountable. They are NOT a special class of human and should not be held above the rest of us. They should not get away with killing a family pet and traumatizing a little girl FOR LIFE because they’re wearing badges.

    Those bastards should have to pay money out of their pockets for this, and they should have lost their jobs. They probably don’t have a conscience, but I hope Seven haunts their dreams often. Hopefully their kids know their dads are dog murdering scum.

  6. Shirley Moore says:

    Justice finally! Everybody needs to share this piece so that this doesn’t keep happening! Cops can’t get away with it all the time & finally justice for this innocent furbaby. And for the family too..money won’t bring the dog back but the family did get justice for their family!

  7. Nancy Raymond says:

    The cops who are so damn trigger happy need to be held responsible for their actions and finally, they are – this happens way too often that innocent animals are shot down by cops who have no right to be there in the first place and feel they can do whatever they want because they wear a badge – then lie and hide behind the big blue wall – it didn’t work this time and I applaud the Harris family for not giving up and at least holding the Hartford cops responsible.

  8. susispot says:

    My hat is off to this family for sticking to this heartache for 11 YEARS! My kind of people. Excellent child/pet parents


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