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Constitutional Law

After Seeing Dashcam Video of Deputy Shooting Family Dog, Jury Awards $620K in Civil Rights Case

Posted Apr 4, 2012 10:55 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins says his deputy "has felt bad ... since day one" about shooting a family pet of Roger and Sandi Jenkins (no relation) on Jan. 9, 2010 at their Taneytown, Md., home.

But that doesn't mean Timothy Brooks did anything wrong by defending himself against their chocolate Labrador retriever, Brandi, as he and a partner attempted to locate the couple's son at their home, the sheriff tells the Washington Post (reg. req.).

A jury did not agree, awarding the couple $620,000 on Monday in a civil rights case that turned on whether or not they had permission to search the property, says their lawyer, Cary J. Hansel, of Joseph Greenwald and Laake. Rebekah Lusk of the Thienel Law Firm also represents the family.

The News-Post says the jury found that both the shooting of the dog and a subsequent entry of the Jenkins home by the deputies violated Maryland's state constitution.

Hansel says the dashcam video of the friendly family pet being shot as she bounded out to greet the sheriff's deputy was crucial evidence in the case, the Washington Post reports. The dog represented "absolutely zero threat," the lawyer contends.

While the couple was taking Brandi to the vet for life-saving treatment, the sheriff's deputies entered their home and found their son hiding inside, the newspaper reports on its Crime Scene page.

There's no word on whether the county intends to appeal. However, the sheriff told the News-Post he expected insurance to cover the payout to the couple.

"I thought the monetary damages were excessive, but to me the real tragedy here was the finding of gross negligence on the deputies' part," he said. "There was nothing that reached that threshold. These guys were just doing their jobs."

The Baltimore Sun also has a story.

Both the Sun and the WaPo provide a link to the dashcam video clip.

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