Dogs & Laws

Jury Awards $1.26 Million to Family of Dog Shot, Killed by Police

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In the largest payout ever awarded in a wrongful dog death lawsuit, a jury awards $1.26 million to the family of a dog shot and killed by police in 2014.

A Glen Burnie, Maryland family was awarded over $1 million after a jury agreed that an Anne Arundel County Police officer unjustly shot and killed their family dog, Vernon (Vern), a Chesapeake Bay Retriever in February 2014.

Anne Arundel County police officer Officer Rodney Price claimed that he was attacked by Vern at the home of Vern’s owner, Michael Reeves, while he was canvassing the neighborhood following a burglary. Around 4pm, Officer Price approached the Reeves’ home where he was confronted by 4-and-a-half year old Vern in the front yard.

Following the shooting, an Anne Arundel County Police investigation cleared Price of any wrongdoing, stating that the dog was aggressive. But, the Reeves family – who was not involved in the burglary that brought police to their neighborhood contested that Vern was not aggressive and did not attack or endanger the officer’s life but simply barked at the stranger entering his property.

A necropsy performed after the shooting disproved the officer’s account of what happened when he shot the dog.

The 3-day trial took place in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County where it was revealed that the the dog did not bite or otherwise injure Officer Price before the shooting. Price also admitted that no other steps were taken to deal with the dog before he pulled his gun and fired it twice.

“The verdict sends a strong message to the police about how community expectations,” said counsel for the plaintiff, Cary J. Hansel in a press release. “The duty to serve and protect extends to our animal family members as well. Shooting Vern was senseless, unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

Jury Awards $1.26 Million
Timothy Reeves was devastated after his dog Vernon was shot by an Anne Arundel County Police officer in 2014. A jury awarded his family $1.26 million Tuesday in a lawsuit against the county. (Courtesy photo / Handout)

The historical $1.26 million verdict includes $500,000 in monetary damages. Reeves works as a defense contractor, Hansel said, and the shooting caused him to miss a significant amount of time from work. The remaining $760,000 in damages was for the anguish caused by the shooting.

Following the shooting, Anne Arundel County police officer Officer Rodney Price was placed on administrative duty. Today, he remains an active member of the police force.

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  1. Avatar Of Bessie Potter

    Bessie Potter


    About time one of these cowardly bullies paid. Let's hope others follow suit. I say coward bully because if they consider a dog's bark a sign of aggression then obviously they are terrified of something that is different. There have been even worse cases than this one. A service dog for children, specifically trained not to be reactive was shot by an officer because he was afraid of dogs. His partner had just petted the dog and the dog turned in his direction and he shot the dog. Then later he changed his story to the dog charged at him. And so he was cleared of any wrong doing. Sad business. It is so nice that this family won this case. But this is just one, in one state. In other places cops are told they can shoot a dog if it goes in their direction. Cowards!! Postal workers use spray and such. What is wrong with coppers that they won't. I do so hope others follow suit. But so much depends on the judge. In one case year before last caught lying twice. Eyewitnesses say one thing. Cops another, they tortured a dog to death and the judge still said they did nothing wrong. A small dog that was just sniffing the grass alongside his fence. So they should all go for jury trials

  2. Avatar Of Linda Ridenour

    Linda Ridenour


    Good job, to the attorney that handled the case. This will open the door for others that have had the same type of thing happen to there dogs. It seems to be happening a lot lately.

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