Hartford reaches settlement with owners of slain St. Bernard

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Eleven years ago, a couple of cops shot and killed a St. Bernard because it growled at them. And they did it in front of a little girl.

This wasn’t a pit bull or a Rottweiler or a Doberman. It was a St. Bernard. And no, it wasn’t Cujo. It was a family pet. And the cops shot it in front of a little kid.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

To me there is no excuse. There is no justification. And there is not enough money in the world to make up for what they did.

But recently, after a lengthy court battle, the Harris family finally got justice for themselves and Seven, their slain St. Bernard.  Specifically, the Connecticut city of Hartford reached a settlement with the family and agreed to pay them more than $800,000, which “includes damages and legal costs.”

To me an apology would have meant more. But in my opinion, a man who is capable of shooting a dog in cold blood isn’t capable of the human decency, much less the compassion and humility necessary to make a proper apology.

Paws up, don’t shoot!

Police claim Seven “growled” and “sprinted at them” when they showed up at the Harris house without a warrant in 2006.

According to news reports, Sgt. Johnmichael O’Hare and Sgt. Anthony Pia went to the residence after a gang member told them that ” two guns were stashed in an abandoned car in the backyard of (Glenn) Harris’ home.”

The officers didn’t find what they were looking for and were about to leave the yard when Seven acted on instinct. That’s when O’Hare shot and killed him.

According to published reports, “Harris’ daughter, who was nearby, claimed she saw O’Hare put the third bullet in Seven’s head, and that he then told her: ‘Sorry Miss. Your dog isn’t going to make it.'”

See you in court

Glenn Harris took matters into his own hands in 2008. That’s when he filed a lawsuit against the officers alleging constitutional violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

But as we all know, the wheels of justice turn very, very slowly. In this case it was four years from the time Harris filed the suit until a jury returned its verdict. When it did, it sided with the cops.

Luckily the story didn’t end there.

In 2012, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York revisited the matter. And it reached a different conclusion. Specifically, Judge Rosemary Pooler found that the officers did nothing wrong when they followed up on the tip, However she also said they did not have the right to set foot on the property without a warrant.

If only the cops had figured that out in the first place…

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