A jury awarded $1.26 million to a Baltimore area family whose dog was shot and killed by police last month. The law firm involved called it “the largest verdict in U.S. history for a police dog shooting.”
“The verdict sends a strong message to the police about community expectations,” said Cary J. Hansel, counsel for the plaintiff. “The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well. Shooting Vern was senseless, unnecessary and unconstitutional.”
Vern, a 4-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, was shot by Rodney Price, an Anne Arundel County police officer in 2014. Price claimed he was attacked by Vern while he was looking into a neighborhood burglary.
“He says ‘I’m really really sorry I just had to shoot him,’ and I’m like ‘you didn’t have to,'” said owner Mike Reeves in a WJZ report.
After a three-day-trial, a jury found that Price was not attacked by the dog, and that the shooting violated Reeve’s constitutional rights. The jury also found that Price acted with gross negligence.
During the trial, Price admitted that the dog did not bite or injure him before the shooting, Hansel Law in Baltimore said in a press release. According to WJLA, Price shot the dog twice.
Price was placed on administrative duty after the shooting but WJZ reported he is still currently with the agency.