21 July 2014


Original Story:  freep.com

A St. Clair Shores woman whose dog was shot multiple times by city police last year has filed a federal lawsuit alleging two police officers responding to a barking dog complaint set out from the start to kill the mixed breed even though it was posing no danger. A St. Clair Shores Dog Bite Lawyer is appalled by the case.

Brittany Preston charges in the lawsuit that her dog, Lexie, was shot four times by police and then dragged away wounded to an animal control truck. Instead of being taken to a veterinarian for treatment, the dog was shot four more times, the lawsuit alleges.

Preston filed the lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court against the City of St. Clair Shores, police Officers David Jacquemain and Jeremy Moskwa, and animal control officer Tom Massey.

Interim City Manager Michael Smith did not return calls Friday seeking comment. City Council is to address the lawsuit during its meeting Monday, when Smith recommends denying the claim and referring it to the city attorney for a response, according to council’s online agenda packet.

Preston is claiming constitutional rights violations in the Nov. 22 death of her 44-pound, 18-month-old, female dog, which was shot outside her home on Princeton. Preston lived in the home with her grandfather, Thomas Warunek.

The lawsuit alleges that immediately upon arriving on the scene, one of the two officers was recorded on a dash cam as saying he was going to shoot the dog. The lawsuit claims the officers shot the dog three times as it stood on the side porch and then, after it ran into the bushes, yelping in pain, shot it a fourth time.

Officers used a neck noose on a pole to drag the wounded dog to an animal control truck, where the lawsuit says it was left for at least 90 minutes. A police report said the dog died as it was being transported to get medical help, according to the lawsuit. A Warren Dog Bite Lawyer said this was animal cruelty.

But Christopher Olson, Preston’s attorney, said a later necropsy conducted by a veterinarian hired by Preston showed the dog at some point had been shot four more times.

“What really is shocking to me and upsetting to Brittany is after it was taken … it has 15 (entry and exit wounds).”

Warunek accidentally left the dog outside the home in the early morning hours of Nov. 22. About 7:15 a.m., a neighbor reported a loose pitbull at Princeton and Walton that had been barking for 90 minutes and was on someone’s porch.

Officers arrived and while the dog was barking from Preston’s front porch, an officer was recorded on police dash cam stating “The only thing I’m gonna do is shoot it. I do not like dogs.” Subsequent dash cam audio recording revealed an officer stating “I don’t do snares, I don’t do dogs … I’ll shoot the (expletive) thing.”

Police claimed the dog was shot because it attacked them, but the lawsuit alleges the dog was merely barking, not targeting the officers.

At a Jan. 6 City Council meeting, police presented preliminary findings from an internal affairs investigation that concluded no wrongdoing based, in part, because no witnesses contradicted the officers’ accounts, according to the lawsuit.

Aside from monetary damages, Olson said he wants to “make sure this doesn’t happen again.” He said because of the incident, which has gone viral and has a Facebook page “Justice for Lexie,” he is receiving many calls from people across the country relaying experiences of officers shooting dogs.

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