December 18, 2014
The Maryland Court of Appeals this week affirmed a jury verdict of over $200,000 in damages in favor of a husband and wife whose dog, a chocolate lab was illegally shot by Frederick County Sheriff’s deputies in 2010.
On January 9, 2010, the Deputies went to the Jenkinses’ home to serve a writ of body attachment on their eighteen-year-old son, Jared, in connection with an incident that took place while Jared was a minor. Deputy Brooks left his patrol car running, so the camera inside it kept recording.
According to a record filed December 16, 2014, at MD Courts, Mr. Jenkins woke up at about 7:00 a.m. to hear Deputy Brooks “banging” on the door. When Deputy Brooks told him the purpose of his visit, Mr. Jenkins responded that he didn’t know whether Jared had come home the night before.
Before speaking with officers, Mr. Jenkins wanted to move his barking dogs from inside the home to an outdoor kennel. He didn’t place Brandi on a least because he didn’t expect her to act aggressively toward an officer. Brandi headed out the door about six to eight feet in front of Mr. Jenkins.
Brandi was shot by Deputy Timothy Brooks, who was later shown to have falsely claimed the dog was a threat and appeared to be attacking. The testimony that Brandi wasn’t attacking was proven by the police dashcam, which showed that Brandi approached the officer wagging her tail and stopped before reaching him.
At this point, Brooks pulled his gun, and Brandi stopped and appeared friendly. Then the deputy shot her. The jury found the deputy violated the family’s constitutional rights and acted with gross negligence.
Not only was Brandi viciously injured, police were also sued for entering a private residence after the family had told them not to go inside. As Mr. Jenkins was preparing to take Brandi for emergency veterinary treatment, Deputy Brooks, on the other hand, testified that he heard no such instruction.
Only three minutes had passed from that first knock at the door until Brandi was shot.
After the family left, deputies waited for their supervisor, Corporal Michael Easterday. When they realized they hadn’t secured the area, and could possibly have the wanted person waiting inside, Deputy Nathan Rector entered the home and announced himself. At this time, Jared was located behind a door.
Corporal Easterday arrived and a third deputy took Jared to patrol the home. Jared was taken into custody, and Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins didn’t notice anything disturbed when they returned home.
Mr. Jenkins testified about Brandi’s injuries and the effect the incident has had on the psychological health of his family.
On October 25, 2010, Mr. Jenkins filed a 12-point lawsuit. Those that survived to be brought up at trial were
Count 2: Trespass to Property (for entry into the home)
Count 3: Trespass to Chattel (for shooting Brandi)
Count 5: Violation of Md. Const. Art. 24 (for shooting Brandi)
Count 6: Violation of Md. Const. Art. 24 (for illegal entry into the home)
Count 7: Violation of Md. Const. Art. 26 (for illegal entry into the home)
Count 8: Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (for shooting Brandi)
Damages were broken down and explained in detail on the MD Courts webpage.
One part of the claim that is particularly disturbing is the deputies were immune to suit for Constitutional trespass. The Jenkinses also weren’t entitled to any compensation for mental anguish caused by the shooting and trespassing.
Unfortunately, this sends the message that police may come onto your property at any time for any reason and get away with it. They’re also not responsible for the mental suffering caused, should one of the officers shoot your dog.
This isn’t the first time Deputy Brooks has been spooked by a dog. Several months prior to Brandi’s shooting, Deputy Brooks was on a call and was scared by a Rottweiler mix and a poodle. He aimed his Taser at the Rottweiler mix (apparently thinking it was coming at him) but hit both that dog and a poodle.
The big question here may not be whether Deputy Brooks lied in an official police document, or should he have entered the home, but in whether an officer this terrified of dogs should be entrusted with keeping the public safe.
Alternate source Facebook: Nathan Winograd