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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