- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - A couple alleges in a lawsuit that Detroit police officers unnecessarily fatally shot their three dogs while executing a search warrant earlier this year.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by Nikita Smith and Kevin Thomas, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the deaths of their pit bulls, Debo and Mama, and a Rottweiler, Smoke.

The lawsuit alleges the dogs were shot after Smith told officers she would put her dogs in the basement. But a police report obtained by the couple’s lawyer show the police officers said they forced their way inside after receiving no response, found “vicious” dogs inside and followed department procedure that stipulates they may shoot animals posing a threat.

John Roach, a spokesman for Detroit, and Detroit police told the Detroit News (https://detne.ws/27XTQ6A ) they do not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit states that Smith placed Debo and Mama in the basement on Jan. 14 and blocked the entryway, then put Smoke in the bathroom with the door closed. The court filing states that after police entered without permission, Debo got out and sat next to Smith. The lawsuit says when Smith reached down to him, officers shot the dog “multiple times.”

Three officers then “stormed down into the basement” and shot Mama although she “was not barking or attacking the police at any time,” the lawsuit states.

Then, after an officer learned where Smoke was, Smith asserts two officers “fired multiple shots through the closed bathroom door,” killing him.

“They went around three different locations, found the dogs where they were and killed them like a death squad,” said Chris Olson, the Royal Oak attorney who filed the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also contends none of the dogs attacked or threatened police, and the shootings were “objectively unreasonable.” It seeks compensatory damages, including for anguish and suffering, and punitive damages, saying the officers were reckless and “showed callous indifference.”

The city and five officers are listed as defendants.

The city in February agreed to pay a man $100,000 after a police officer fatally shot his dog last year while it was on a leash outside his home.

A police report showed officers arrested Smith after finding marijuana at the house. 36th District Court records show she pleaded not guilty to violating the city’s marijuana code and no officer appeared at a recent proceeding, so the case was dismissed.

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Information from: The Detroit News, https://detnews.com/

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