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It's not often police kill a dog and are forced to pay, but a Chicago jury on Friday made a statement when it awarded the family of Darren and Thomas Russell $243,000 for an incident during which Chicago police raided the brothers' home and shot the family's dog.
An additional $90,000 was also awarded to Thomas Russell, who was found to have been falsely arrested for obstructing authorized service of criminal process when he asked the officers if he could secure the canine.
In fact, a criminal trial showed that when police arrived with a search warrant at the pair's South Side home in February 2009, Thomas Russell did not try to block the officers' entry, reports NBC.
Instead, with his hands in the air, he asked if he could lock up the family's 9-year-old female Labrador prior to their entering.
They said no, but when the dog walked in the room calmly wagging its tail, the Chicago Tribune reports that Officer Richard Antonsen shot her.
The family then brought a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department alleging false arrest, excessive force, and illegal seizure for the death of the dog.
This lawsuit is not the first of its kind, but it may be one of the few that has resulted in such a large award.
It's unclear why the jury saw fit to award such a staggering amount, but it may have to do with the fact that Darren and Thomas Russell alleged that the shooting violated their constitutional rights, as opposed to just caused emotional distress and the destruction of property.
Constitutional violations generally warrant more recovery.
Additionally, when police kill a dog, it's ordinarily done out of concern for safety, an element that appeared not to be present in this case. This also could have factored heavily into the jury's deliberations.
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