$5,000 settlement in shooting death of dog by North Chicago cop
By Judy Masterson firstname.lastname@example.org @JudyReport December 9, 2013 6:10PM
Stephanie Smith of North Chicago with a computer photo of her dog "Lokey" riding in a car seat. Metropolitan Enforcement Group officers broke into her apartment and shot and killed "Lokey" . | Thomas Delany Jr~Sun-Times Media
Safe Humane Chicago was a key partner, along with the National Canine Research Council, in developing a training manual and videos on nonlethal options for police/dog encounters for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Visit http://cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/12-2013/police_and_dog_encounters.asp.
To read the amendment to the Illinois Police Training Act (HB 3388), visit: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts.
Updated: February 8, 2014 3:23AM
NORTH CHICAGO — Police in Lake County and throughout Illinois must learn nonlethal ways to respond to dogs in the line of duty under a change to the Illinois Police Training Act that goes into effect Jan. 1.
The amended law orders the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board to conduct or approve training in humane response as well as how to respond to dog fights and animal abuse and neglect.
“Police officers have to keep everybody safe − themselves, their partners, the public and animals,” said Cynthia Bathurst, executive director, Safe Humane Chicago. “But they can’t do that if they don’t have the strategies and tools they need.”
The updated law reflects both a growing attachment to pets − 40 percent of U.S. households include at least one dog − and outrage among animal lovers when four-legged friends are dispatched by police in incidents that can also provoke expensive lawsuits.
“Pet’s have gone from the barnyard to the backyard to the bedroom and they’re part of our families now,” Bathurst said. “A large percentage of Americans own dogs and that’s the way we see it.”
Shamarra Evans of Grayslake accused North Chicago Police Officer Ramtin Sabet of “malice, willfullness and reckless indifference” in a federal lawsuit seeking damages after the shooting of her dog on July 8, 2011.
The city on Dec. 2 agreed to a $5,000 settlement of that claim. According to court documents, Evans, who brought her dog, “Mama,” a 4-year-old American pit bull terrier, along on a visit to a friend’s home in the 1300 block of Lincoln Street, claims Sabet shot the dog without provocation.
Evans, who works at a nail salon in Gurnee, declined to comment except to say that she accepted the settlement because defense attorneys threatened to use a past arrest against her.
North Chicago city Attorney Chuck Smith said the city agreed to settle the claim for “less than what it would have cost to defend it to jury verdict.”
“The officer was executing a search warrant for drugs,” Smith said. “Officers are trained to be protective. Many drug dealers have a pit bull and this was a pit bull. The officer said the dog was coming at him and that’s why he did what he did.”
But Evans claims Sabet killed her dog while it was playing with her friend’s dogs.
Smith said he often hears the argument that dogs have no civil rights. But courts have ruled that the “unreasonable” killing of a pet poses an unconstitutional seizure of personal property under the Fourth Amendment.
In another police-dog encounter this year, the subject of a federal lawsuit against an officer with the Metropolitan Enforcement Group (MEG), Stephanie Smith of North Chicago claims that State Trooper Adam Hendrick shot her dog Lokey “multiple times in the head and body” despite the fact that the dog was standing by her side, wagging its tail.
That shooting occurred inside Smith’s apartment at 1500 Elizabeth Ave. on March 20 during a drug raid in which her brother, who had spent the night, was taken into custody.
Assistant Attorney General Sunil Bhave, who is representing Hendrick, could not be reached for comment. Efforts to contact Smith, who still lives in the apartment where her dog died, were also unsuccessful.
Smith is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, loss of companionship and illegal seizure of property.
Illinois is the second state, after Colorado, to adopt police training guidelines that train officers in non-lethal methods of controlling dogs.