COLUMBIA — The fatal shooting of a dog during a Columbia Police SWAT team raid in February has prompted the department to review its policies, Chief Ken Burton said at a news conference Thursday.
SWAT officers raided the home of Jonathan Whitworth, the dog's owner, eight days after securing the search warrant on suspicion that Whitworth was dealing marijuana, Burton said. The officers encountered a pit bull and a Welsh corgi when they burst through the door of Whitworth's home at 1501 Kinloch Court in southwest Columbia. They fatally shot the pit bull and wounded the corgi. Whitworth's wife and child were also in the home when the police executed the raid, according to a report in the Columbia Tribune.
Whitworth pleaded guilty on April 20 to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and was fined $300.
As Mayor Bob McDavid stood next to him, Burton said that the warrant to search Whitworth's home was "stale" and that he has changed department policy to conduct raids immediately after a search warrant is obtained. Burton said the department moved slowly in Whitworth's case because the SWAT team is made up of part-time members who hold other jobs within the department.
Though an internal department review is ongoing, Burton said the pit bull was acting aggressively. He guardedly defended the actions of the officers involved, whom he declined to name.
"We're getting death threats from literally all over the world," Burton said.
A video of the incident (seen above) had received about 168,000 views on YouTube as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Information contained in the caption of the video has not been verified by the Missourian.