Tiffanie Hupp and two other plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against West Virginia State Trooper Seth Cook, West Virginia State Police and Col. C.R. "Jay" Smithers over an incident involving Hupp's dog that was caught on video (below) in May 2015.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, which represents Hupp, is claiming "excessive force, unlawful arrest and unlawful search and seizure, as well as malicious prosecution, negligent training of a police officer and the intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery and slander," notes the News and Sentinel.
In response to the lawsuit, State Police 1st Lt. Michael Baylous said that the police department's policy was not to issue statements on pending cases.
Hupp told the Charleston Gazette-Mail in March 2016 that state troopers were called to her home after her husband's stepfather, Clifford Myers, got into an argument with a neighbor.
A police report stated that "a white dog aggressively came toward the trooper," reports the News and Sentinel. "He drew the .45-caliber West Virginia State Police-issued sidearm from the holster and presented it as the dog was rapidly approaching and snarling."
In a video filmed by Cupp's husband, Ryan, the dog is seen barking and wagging its tail. Hupp gets in between Cook and her dog, Cook throws her to the ground, Hupp stands back up, and Cook takes her into custody.
The police report asserted that Hupp grabbed at Cook and cursed at him, causing Cook to shove her away.
The video contains blaring audio from an indoor TV broadcast, so the sound is not clear.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund said in a press release that the dog was tied to a tree and was not a threat to Cook. According to the press release, Hupp got between Cook and the dog "in an effort to protect Buddy and her son from the trauma of seeing his beloved dog shot."
Cook arrested Hupp, who was charged with obstruction. Cupp was found not guilty by a jury in March 2016, reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
"Police shooting dogs is a preventable tragedy in most situations," Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director Stephen Wells stated in the news release.
"Many jurisdictions are providing mandatory canine encounter trainings to law enforcement to address these types of encounters without lethal force."