Owners of dogs killed by Detroit police win civil rights appeal

Posted at 10:07 AM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 10:07:59-04

A federal court says the owners of three dogs killed by Detroit police during a raid can pursue a civil rights lawsuit against the officers.

The city argued that the unlicensed dogs were illegal under a 99-year-old Michigan law. But an appeals court says police can't "kill every unlicensed dog on the spot," just like they can't immediately destroy an unlicensed car.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says the owners were entitled to due process. In a 2-1 opinion Monday, the court says a Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure applies in two of the three dog deaths. The owners' attorney, Christopher Olson, says he's pleased.

The case will go to trial in Detroit federal court or be settled.

Police say Debo, a pit bull, and Smoke, a Rottweiler, were aggressive during a search for drugs in 2015.