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'To Protect and to Serve...and to Overreact'
If you're a police officer, Hollywood has blessed (or cursed) you with a rich history of role models, decades worth of fictionalized examples to follow on TV and in film.
Today, Joe Friday is frowning beneath his fedora. Sonny Crockett just lowered his Ray-Bans to take a second, quizzical look. Even Detective Jimmy McNulty is appalled, and when he isn't inventing serial killers, he's drunk. All because a Virginia cop pulled his gun and killed an aggressive miniature Dachshund that was carrying a menacing 12 pounds on its stubby 11-year-old legs.
The Danville (Va.) Police Department officer was walking back to his squad car after an unsuccessful try at serving a warrant at a local home. That's when the neighbors' little dog (called "Killer," the way a fat guy gets nicknamed "Tiny") ran toward the officer, barking and growling. The cop drew his gun and fired one shot, killing Killer, according to WXII-12.
In response to local outcry, the Danville Police Department issued a statement on what they're calling the "Dog Incident," saying that an officer's "options are limited when dealing with a dog that is engaged in a running attack from the rear without warning."
When you put it that way, we're with you on paper. But in reality, when the "running attack" is ambling toward you on little six-inch, 11-year-old legs, that statement can and will be used against you.
A police officer has "limited" options in that situation? Let's run through a few of them. In rough order of lethality, you have steel-toed combat boots, pepper spray, and baton. Maybe give one of those a try.
In any case, there was one fail-safe tactic that should have been as obvious as it would have been embarrassing: run back to the squad car. If there's no time to get in it, jump up on the hood. Call for back-up. Have animal services come over with a tranquilizer gun, assuming the dog hasn't already become bored and decided to take a nap by then.
That move won't earn you any medals, and neither your fellow officers nor Danville Police Department lore will be kind to you in the end. To say the least, it's not a very cop-like thing to do. But then, neither is staring down a yapping 12-pound wiener dog, offering up a steely "Do you feel lucky, pup?", and doling out capital punishment for a leash law violation.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.