$1 Million Lawsuit Filed Against Cop Who Shot Blind, Deaf Dog

A federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the owner of a blind and deaf dog that was repeatedly shot by a Missouri police officer after it became lost in someone’s yard earlier this month.

The complaint, filed on behalf of dog owner Nicholas Hunter on Tuesday against the city of Sturgeon and police officer Myron Woodson, seeks more than $1 million in damages, the Animal League Defense Fund announced Wednesday.

Woodson had been called in to help find the owner of the dog, a 13-pound Shih Tzu named Teddy. The officer shot him twice at point-blank range, as seen in body camera footage. Minutes after the shooting, Hunter, who’d gotten a call from a friend about Teddy escaping his backyard kennel, confronted the officer.

Teddy was filmed being shot twice by the officer after a woman said she found him lost in her backyard and requested help locating his owner.
Teddy was filmed being shot twice by the officer after a woman said she found him lost in her backyard and requested help locating his owner. supplied

“At no time during the encounter between Teddy and Defendant Woodson did Teddy show any aggression towards Defendant Woodson,” states the complaint. “Teddy never barked, growled, or even moved towards Defendant Woodson. Instead, the small, blind and deaf dog simply kept trying to walk away, oblivious to the danger that Defendant Woodson posed to him.”

The city failed to properly train, supervise and discipline Woodson, resulting in the unlawful seizure and killing of Teddy, Hunter’s lawsuit maintains.

The city had initially defending Woodson, saying he “acted within his authority” to protect citizens from the dog. But Sturgeon Mayor Kevin Abrahamson resigned after the dog’s death, and Woodson was placed on leave until further notice, the city announced over the weekend.

Representatives for the city and police department did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment Friday.

“I hope this case can generate attention that will result in state-level laws to provide mandatory training and procedures for all law enforcement or anyone that could possibly have interactions with animals,” Hunter said in a statement released by the ALDF on Wednesday. “I just don’t want anyone else to experience what we’re going through.”

In an earlier interview with HuffPost, Hunter said Woodson admitted to him that he felt Teddy posed no threat to him and that he only killed Teddy because the small dog looked injured or abandoned.

“He carried his head sideways and he walked funny because he can’t see or hear,” Hunter said of Teddy, who was 5. “The vet diagnosed him with a neurological issue, which was the cause of him going deaf and blind.”

The woman who called the city for help finding Teddy’s owner also insisted that the dog was harmless and she merely wanted assistance so he wouldn’t get hurt, she told HuffPost.

“The dog drank water from a bowl I provided and licked my arm and leg. He was in no way a threat,” said the woman, who declined to share her name publicly out of fear of retaliation.

“This is such an unnecessary, and preventable problem,” ALDF Executive Director Chris Green said in a statement. “It all comes down to providing police officers with adequate training and then holding all involved accountable. The goal is to prevent these tragedies from ever happening in the first place.”

The ADLF, citing statistics from the Justice Department, said the number one reason a police officer discharges their firearm in the U.S. is to shoot a dog. This results in an estimated 10,000 dogs being shot and killed by police annually.