Another Isolated Incident

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Actually, the end result in this particular case is an isolated incident.

A federal jury awarded $333,000 to a Chicago family Thursday after Chicago police officers raided its South Side home with guns drawn and shot its dog in a search that found no criminal activity in the apartment.

Teenage brothers Thomas and Darren Russell were in their second-floor apartment in the 9200 block of South Justine Street in February 2009 when officers announced they had a warrant to search both units of the two-flat. Thomas Russell, then 18, opened the door and found officers with their guns drawn, according to the lawsuit. Russell said that he put his hands in the air and asked permission to lock up his 9-year-old black Labrador, Lady, before they entered.

Police refused the request and came into the house, the lawsuit said. When Lady came loping around the corner with her tail wagging, Officer Richard Antonsen shot the dog, according to the suit, which alleged excessive force, false arrest and illegal seizure for taking the dog’s life.

Thomas Russell was arrested and charged with obstructing police but was later found not guilty. No drugs were found in the Russell family’s apartment, though police recovered drugs in the building’s other unit, the family’s lawyers said.

It’s rare for a suit like this to even get into court, much less result in substantial damages. Even more extraordinary, the jury actually ordered one of the cops to personally pay out punitive damages, though it was only $1,000 (and I’m not sure—that may still be covered by the city, or perhaps by the police union).

Guess we’ll see if the award holds up on appeal. But it would be great to see more of this kind of accountability.

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25 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  Huntly | 

    You probably have these on here somewhere, but you know TLDR(L). Are there any statistics on police officers being attacked by dogs that someone could cite to justify these types of situations?

  2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I’ve been reading this blog for a long time now and I have come to the following conclusion:

    If you are not a cop, you are interfering with police. Period.

  3. #3 |  DarkEFang | 

    All the evidence that the police need to justify themselves is one case in the entire history of civilization in which something happened. Or if it ever happened in a movie/TV show. Or if there has ever been an unsubstantiated rumor that it may have happened.

  4. #4 |  Goober | 

    Awww, the big men with guns was scared of the wittle puppeh dog and hads to shoot im.

    What kind of man is so chickenshit that a 9 year old labrador retriever is a lethal threat to him that justifies taking action that endangers everyone around him with lethal force? Good God, if you are that fucking cowardly you shouldn’t be a cop…

  5. #5 |  EH | 

    The cop should have to be their butler. If the $1000 check comes from his personal account, I’d frame it.

  6. #6 |  the innominate one | 

    Finally, some good news!

    Who are you, and what have you done with Radley, you bastard?!

  7. #7 |  Aresen | 

    @ Huntly | August 19th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    As far as I am aware, there are precisely zero cases of police officers receiving serious injuries from dogs while the officers are on duty.

    On a side note, I would offer very long odds that the number of police officers injured by their own dogs is many times higher than the number of police officers bitten by dogs belonging to suspects.

  8. #8 |  Aresen | 

    On what grounds was Thomas Russell charged with “obstructing a police officer puppykiller?

  9. #9 |  Dante | 


    That’s when, after the police wrongly raid my house, rough up my family and shoot my dog, I get to go to their houses, rough up their families and shoot their dogs.

    Of course I am being facetious. But it would restore accountability.

  10. #10 |  Dante | 

    “Good God, if you are that fucking cowardly you shouldn’t be a cop…”

    Actually, the cowards naturally gravitate towards police work. Sorta like really, really tall and athletic people naturally gravitate towards professional basketball.

  11. #11 |  skootercat | 

    When all of these “isolated incidents” by warrant service started, police told tales of drug dealers with vicious attack dogs as a part of their dope dealing security that made warrant service life threatening. In the years that have passed we see family dogs, wrong door dogs, old dogs, puppies and dogs that could be handled with just a little care shot by police as a common part of their process. Why is there no intelligence as to dog or no dog? Trained attacker or lap dog? Why no animal control officer to handle suspect’s animals? Every wild nature show depicts tranquilizing of the most dangerous of man eaters when necessary and US law enforcement chooses death as their only option. Then there’s the package delivery and mail service people, they don’t kill dogs, why do our cops? Do they hate us that much?

  12. #12 |  Marty | 

    the cops should have to eat a labshit sandwich, too.

    otherwise, a great outcome!

  13. #13 |  Kerade | 

    #11 – why do our cops? Do they hate us that much?


  14. #14 |  PermaLurker | 

    As a teenager I had 120+ paper route for a couple years. Virtually every house had a dog. Most were barkers…no threat. A few were runners; they would run up to you and stop…no threat. In all those deliveries only one dog actually tried to bite me and he quit after after I hit him in the nose with a paper. This is not rocket science. Cops are just wusses.

  15. #15 |  Charlie O | 

    #10 Dante,

    You essentially nailed. Way, way too many attracted to law enforcement are exactly that, cowards. Cowards and bullies. They strap on that badge and gun it’s their protection from the world. They don’t have the stones to make it on their own. My father was one. I can attest, with no doubt, my father was a coward his entire life.

  16. #16 |  BamBam | 

    Why not ask a judge to sign a death warrant for the entire block? Why stop there in the name of safety and for the children and drug war, and ask for a death warrant for the entire city? FUCK IT, ask for the planet. That ain’t good enough? A death warrant for THE GALAXY.

  17. #17 |  Aresen | 

    Cops are just wusses

    Actually, the real wussiness comes in the form of all those cops who privately condemn such actions, but haven’t got the guts to speak out against it.

  18. #18 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Reddit had a great AMA from a sex worker who basically said the worst customer who completely skeeved her out and was a total asshole…was the cop who busted her for a happy ending massage.

    Cops are, as a group, the biggest collection of douche bags, bullies, and cowards in the country. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to look back at this time period in amazement at these assholes and with gratitude that they all ended up in a dark cell where they couldn’t hurt anyone.

  19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Forgot to mention that it has been many years since RB started “Another isolated incident”. I think we’re up over 500…even if we don’t include basic police abuse and cover-ups. So that was all a load of crap, Scalia.

    I’d like to make Scalia (maybe trap him with a promise of a hoagie or a slice) sit in a beanbag chair and listen to me read every case.

  20. #20 |  Chris Mallory | 

    #8 | Aresen | August 19th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    “On what grounds was Thomas Russell charged with “obstructing a police officer puppykiller?”

    He didn’t immediately fall to his knees and begin to fluff the cop who knocked on the door. Anything else and you are lucky to not be shot.

  21. #21 |  JS | 

    Boyd Durkin “Cops are, as a group, the biggest collection of douche bags, bullies, and cowards in the country. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to look back at this time period in amazement at these assholes and with gratitude that they all ended up in a dark cell where they couldn’t hurt anyone.”


  22. #22 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #18: I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that girl’s experience has been shared by almost every hooker in the United States and Canada. Cops, whether on duty or off, are the biggest threat to American prostitutes of every level from streetwalker to call girl. In fact, one of the things which inspired Margo St. James to found COYOTE was her discovery that most streetwalkers in San Francisco had been raped by cops, some of them regularly and many of them brutally.

  23. #23 |  croaker | 

    @4 That’s half the force. The other half were the steroid-juicing football players who got off on handing out swirlies, wedgies and curb jobs.

    @19 I’d rather make Scalia take a beanbag round. To his nuts.

    L. Neil Smith had the solution to this cop problem twenty years ago: Take away their guns and body armor. If they want to dress up in battle rattle, Afghanistan awaits.

  24. #24 |  Nathan | 

    Accountability? What accountability? As Teddy KGB said in Rounders, “It’s a fucking joke anyway. I am paying you with your own money!”

  25. #25 |  Brian | 

    On an editorial style side note, “its” is probably not the best way to indicate the plural possessive of “family”. Why not “their”?

    As in:
    “. . . Chicago police officers raided their South Side home with guns drawn and shot their dog . . .”

    The home and dog were not owned by an inanimate object.