LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – A Tulsa attorney says he plans to sue the city of Locust Gardens in federal court after police shot and killed two stray dogs on Aug. 11.
Now one of the dogs, named Lucky, has survived the fire and is back on his owner’s property.
Tulsa attorney Mark Lyons is representing the owner, as he said. He filed a tort lawsuit with the city last Friday informing him of his intent to sue. The city will have 90 days to accept or reject the claims.
The letter reads in part: “Ms. Shelton’s dogs were killed by Locust Park police officers without any legal reason because they were not behaving in a threatening or aggressive manner and were not causing any problems in the community.”
Furthermore, the seizure and killing of Ms. Shelton’s dogs, without some exception to the warrant or warrant requirement, constituted a meaningful and permanent interference with her right, title, and interest in the ownership and/or possession of those dogs and violated her Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.”
Lyon said what happened was wrong.
“We are going after individual officers. We will be suing the mayor and the city of Locust Gardens for having a policy and procedure that allows individual officers to go out and pick up dogs or ticket them. [dog] runs at large or forces the owner to declare that he has been abandoned, apparently that gives officers the authority to take the dog out and execute it and shoot it in the head,” Lyons said.
He said the owner recorded the phone conversation and admitted to officers being surprised to see the dog alive and shooting them. This was after the owner declared them homeless.
When the person on the phone asked the officers if it was city protocol to shoot the dogs, the officers replied, “Yes. They were put down. This is how we do it.”
Former police chief Cullen Bean confirmed to FOX23 that the recording was made by his staff. He said his officers had previously been called to the owner’s property for problems with dogs.
“We’ve had constant complaints about him and we’ve tried to get him to go in and get a kennel license to register him with the city and he’s refused. I have to say he never did,” Bean told FOX23.
A police incident report was filed detailing the day officers were seen on the owner’s property after the dogs got out of the fence. At first, one of them writes in her report that Deanna is frustrated with taking care of the dogs, but she writes:
“Deanna let the dogs stay there as if they were her own. On several occasions when the dogs were outside, Deanna accepted to return them to their residents.
Finally, the incident report says that Mayor Jason Williams was seen and the report reads:
“Jason asked Deanna if she wanted to handle the dogs as strays. At this point, Deanna revealed that the dogs were in fact strays.
Then one of the officials writes:
“Officer Hall asked Jason if we were going to put the dogs down and Jason nodded yes.”
Another writes something like this:
“Jason nodded and verbally said yes.”
Later in the report, one of the officials said:
“I then transported the dogs to North Wyandotte property and the dog was euthanized.”
Former Chief Bean said he resigned as soon as he heard what happened.
“It’s not something I can handle and it didn’t look like it was going to change at all,” he said.
Lyon said the officers acted inhumanely.
“I guarantee you in the butterfly exercise, ‘by the way, here’s how you execute a dog, here’s the animal control procedures, where you make the owners leave the dog and you call the dog over, you put it on the dog’s back. truck and go a mile outside the city limits and put a bullet in the head,” I guarantee it’s not part of the hook drill,” Lyons said.
The mayor claimed that he never ordered the dogs to be shot. He said it was against city policy and both officers had been warned.
Mayor Williams confirmed receiving the letter from attorney Mark Lyons, but had no official comment.
As for criminal charges, Mayes County District Attorney Matt Ballard said he doesn’t see any criminal charges imminent at this point, but the investigation is open and they will monitor any civil cases to see if new information comes to light.
The criminal standard is different, he said, because it requires willfulness or malice, and policy violations can lead to civil exposure or administrative action against the officer’s hiring, but that’s separate from the criminal act.
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