Eric Crinnian, of Kansas City, Mo., was told by police officers who wanted to search his home without a warrant that they would come back when he was least expecting it— and kill his dogs.
It turns out this sort of threat by law enforcement officers is neither uncommon nor illegal.
Crinnian, a lawyer, went to investigate loud banging at his door last Monday night, Fox 4 News reported. He took a crowbar with him, since a neighbor’s house had recently been robbed. He peeked outside and saw three police officers.
As soon as the officers saw that Crinnian had something in his hand, one of the officers took out his gun and told Crinnian to come out with his hands up.
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Crinnian complied, and was told that the officers were looking for two men who were believed to have violated parole.
“I said, ‘I have no idea who you’re talking about I’ve never heard of these people before,’” Crinnian said.
The police wanted to search Crinnian’s house. He asked them for a warrant. They could not supply one, so he refused to consent to the search.
That’s when one of the officers began issuing threats, according to Crinnian: “If we have to get a warrant, we’re going to come back when you’re not expecting it, we’re going to park in front of your house, where all your neighbors can see, we’re gonna bust in your door with a battering ram, we’re gonna shoot and kill your dogs, who are my family, and then we’re going to ransack your house looking for these people.”
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John Hamilton, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Park University and former police officer, said that the threats aren’t illegal, but might violate the police department’s policies.
“I just think it’s a dangerous way to do policing, because it makes it tenuous when you appear in front of the court in a case like that,” Hamilton said.
Reason.com quoted Jonathan Turley, law professor at The George Washington University Law School, who wrote in a blog post that proving that the officers violated the law “could be a tough case on this evidence,” despite the fact that he believed the officers’ actions were “a little more than inappropriate and could constitute a crime.”
That crime would be issuing a criminal threat, a threat defined by Missouri’s legal code as one to “commit violence communicated with intent to terrorize another.” However, Missouri has a provision that exempts law enforcements officers from the criminal threat law.
Turley also cited multiple cases in which police officers killed family pets with “as if it were just one more minor act like kicking in a door.” Police State USA wrote in an article about the incident that the trend is the subject of an in-the-works documentary, Puppycide.