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UPDATE: SWAT raid prompts Columbia police review of policies

Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 8:33 p.m. CDT; updated 10:10 a.m. CDT, Sunday, May 9, 2010

Police Chief Ken Burton described the pit bull's actions toward SWAT officers as "becoming aggressive." This story previously misreported the pit bull's actions.

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There was a misdemeanor amount of marijuana  found in Whitworth's possession. This story previously misreported the amount of marijuana found in the home.

COLUMBIA — When Columbia Police SWAT officers kicked in Jonathan Whitworth's door, they didn't find what they were looking for but drew a worldwide audience.

Acting on an 8-day-old warrant on Feb. 11, at least eight officers raided Whitworth's home at 1501 Kinloch Court in southwest Columbia on the suspicion that he was dealing a significant amount of marijuana. But police only found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana. The tip on Whitworth came from an informant who the police chief said apparently wasn't consulted before the raid was carried out.

Another problem: During the raid, officers fatally shot Whitworth's pit bull and wounded a Welsh corgi before arresting Whitworth, whose wife and 7-year-old were also home.

Now, as the department nears the end of its internal investigation of the matter,  it is facing widening ripples of consequences of a story that has gone viral. A video of the raid had received almost 295,000 views on YouTube as of 8 p.m. Thursday as Whitworth's attorney said his client was contemplating legal action against the department.

"We're reviewing everything right now, and we're keeping every possibility open," Jeff Hilbrenner said. He said Whitworth had not yet filed a formal complaint with the Police Department, and Whitworth's family had been put in an awkward position.

"They know that it’s come to the attention of people all over America," Hilbrenner said. "They’ve been contacted by people they don’t know offering support from all over the country. They don’t want that to be how they’re known. They would prefer to go on living their life as a young couple with a young son."

The attention has been much grimmer for the Police Department. On Thursday afternoon, Chief Ken Burton held a news conference with Mayor Bob McDavid at Columbia City Hall to combat what he repeatedly called the Internet's mixing of "fact with fiction."

"We're getting death threats from literally all over the world," Burton said, declining to release the names of the officers involved.

Burton sought to put an end to rumors that the pit bull was in a cage when the officers shot it. He also said the corgi had been shot in the paw by accident because it was next to the pit bull when the larger dog became aggressive toward the officers coming in the front door. The pit bull ran away and again threatened officers, who shot it, Burton said.

In the video, "you hear that dog (the corgi) screaming, and that isn't pleasant to listen to," Burton said.

As for Whitworth — who pleaded guilty on April 20 to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia and was fined $300 — Burton said a federal drug conviction and a history of combative arrests prompted the use of heavy police force. Burton regretted the department waited so long to execute the warrant.

"I don’t think we should have run it eight days later," Burton said. "We should have run it that day. We simply didn’t do it. So we own that, and we’re very sorry it turned out the way it did. None of those officers wanted to hurt that dog — or any dog, as a matter of fact — but it was an unfortunate situation.”

As McDavid stood next to him, Burton said he had 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.

But he said the SWAT team had no policy on how to deal with dogs.

When asked whether police would have conducted the raid if they knew Whitworth's son was present, Burton was equivocal. "I would have looked at the situation and the circumstances that day," he said.

Burton said he expected an internal review of the matter to be finished as soon as Monday. There were notes of ambivalence in a chief who largely stood by his officers.

"Frankly, we wouldn’t be standing here if an officer had been bit by a pit bull instead of the reverse happening," Burton said.

He added, “We probably could have been involved in a shooting in there with a person and not been given this much attention, but because it was a dog ...”

Lt. Scott Young, who is in charge of the department's SWAT team, said he couldn't comment specifically on the incident because of the ongoing investigation. As for the department's policy on handling dogs, he said. "If they're aggressive and violent towards our officers, we'll shoot 'em," though he said it was "rare."

What about using a Taser?

"It’s just not as effective on dogs as it is on humans," Scott said. "An aggressive dog is a very tough animal. ... The dog certainly suffers no aftereffects (from the electric shock). As soon as the five seconds is up, they’re right back at it."

The video, depicting a paramilitary-style police raid on a suspected marijuana dealer, highlighted a separate issue. In 2004, the city voted to pass an ordinance that stated: "The limited resources of law enforcement should be directed primarily toward crimes of violence or property loss. The enforcement of laws against marijuana shall be among the lower priorities of law enforcement."

But Scott said the ordinance was intended for misdemeanor levels of possession. "We do not do search warrants based on information that there’s a small amount of marijuana there," he said.

Heavily armed raids are conducted on drug dealers because of a "high frequency of violent offenders and high-frequency of weapons involved," Scott said. Still, most of those go off well.

"We’ve had years where we’ve done over 100 (raids) a year, and the vast vast bulk of them are without incident, with no violence, no resistance, no problems," Scott said. "We’re always reviewing our tactics and methods to make sure we’re safer for everybody."

As for the video, during Thursday's news conference, Burton said cameras on SWAT officers — already common for downtown patrol units — were still in the experimental phase. Scott embraced the idea.

"We video all of them that we can," Scott said. "If a person were to be resistant towards us, it would be good to have that on video. Video gets us out of a lot more complaints and accusations than they get us into."


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Comments

john george May 6, 2010 | 9:32 p.m.

It appears to me they barely gave the homeowner time to answer the door, rushed in, and began shooting pets. You could tell by their demeanor in the video that they were on an adrenaline high and that they had no concern for the animals at all. Even after the "subject" was subdued none of them made any attempt to call a vet or try to help the injured animals. What more should we expect from a force that consists of officers that gather on top of a parking garage to get drunk and occasionally murder their gay lover. Lets see if McDavid has the nerve to stand up to these stormtroopers or if Columbia will continue to be under Marshall Law.

(Report Comment)
Matt Pearce May 6, 2010 | 9:39 p.m.

For more on the incident, I encourage readers to listen to audio of Chief Burton's comments here:
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/multim...

-Matt Pearce
Public Safety reporter
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Shawn Chamnness May 6, 2010 | 10:47 p.m.

FIRST OFF HOW ARE THEY GOING TO BUST INTO SOMEONES HOUSE OVER A MISDEMEANOR CHARGE FOR MARIJUANA? THAT HAPPENED TO NOT EVEN BE THERE BUT WAS INSTEAD PARAPHENALIA. ANYONE WITH COMMON SENSE WOULD OF BEEN ABLE TO SAY HEY MAYBE WE CAN GET HIM TO GO EASILY AND THEY COULD OF AVOIDED ALL THIS STUPID S**T. THEY DID NOT GIVE THE GUY A CHANCE TO OPEN THE DOOR, ESPECIALLY SEEING HOW EARLY IN THE MORNING THEY HAD COME TO THERE HOME. IT WOULD OF TAKEN ME PERSONALLY SOME TIME TO COMPREHEND THAT SOMEONE IS AT THE DOOR IF I HAD FALLEN ASLEEP. SECOND, DOGS ARE INSTINCTIVELY PROTECTIVE OF THERE FAMILY. AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THESE PEOPLE WERE. HIS FAMILY THAT HAD BEEN AWOKEN WITH LOUDNESS AND VIOLENCE THAT WOULD CAUSE A DOG TO INSTINCTIVELY WANT TO PROTECT. MY QUESTION IS WHY DID WE NOT SEE ANY VIDEO OF THE DOG BEING SHOT OR IN THE ROOM WHERE THE DOG WAS AT? COULD THIS BE BECAUSE IT WOULD OF SHOWN A VIOLENT ACT TOWARDS A DOG, THAT WAS TRYING TO PROTECT IT'S FAMILY, YET PROCEEDED WITH NO VIOLENCE FROM ITSELF. THE DOG WAS NOT BITING OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE ALL YOU HEARD WAS IT BARKING. IT CANT BARK AND BITE AT THE SAME TIME. NOT WITHOUT SOUNDING MUFFLED. YOU WOULD THINK THAT THESE OFFICERS WOULD BEEN MORE CAREFUL, OR RESPECTFUL ESPECIALLY SINCE THERE WAS A CHILD INVOLVED. HERE THEY ARE BUSTING INTO THIS CHILDS HOME THROWING HIS FATHER ON TO THE GROUND WHERE THEY PROCEEDED TO KICK HIM EVEN THOUGH HE WAS DOING EXACTLY AS ASKED. THEN THEY PROCEEDED TO YELL AT THE CHILD AND MOTHER TO WALK AROUND THE GUY. FIRST OFF IF IT WOULD OF BEEN ME IN THIS SITUATION WHERE YOU WERE BEING SO HATEFUL TO MY CHILD, YOU WOULD OF HAD A BIGGER ISSUE THAN THE MISDEMEANOR CHARGE. YOU SAY YOU ARE HERE TO PROTECT AND SERVE THE COMMUNITY BUT LET ME TELL YOU, YOU ARE DISPICABLE EXCUSES OF ANYTHING THAT WE THE UNITED STATES HAS ALWAYS STOOD FOR. YOU ARE TOO INVOLVED WITH THIS ATTITUDE WHERE YOU THINK YOURSELF TO BE BETTER THAN THOSE AROUND YOU. WELL GUESS WHAT GUYS YOU PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON THE SAME WAY THE REST OF US DO, I HOPE THIS FAMILY PURSUES CHARGES AGAINS THE WHOLE DEPARTMENT. OBVIOUSLY THERE IS SOMEONE NOT DOING THERE JOB SOMEWHERE OTHERWISE THEY WOULD BE WATCHING YOU AND CORRECTING YOU. YOU ALL HAVE DONE SOME HORRENDOUS THINGS IN THE PAST YEAR BUT THIS BEATS IT. SHAME ON YOU PATHETIC SCREWBALLS.

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 6, 2010 | 11:49 p.m.

i,ve notified the national humane society and have notified p.e.t.a. and i,ve also notified nancy grace about this.i want to see the officers or whom i call swat bullies fired and prosecuted.no they didn,t even try and contact a vet,they just shot the dogs and stood there laughing about it,and what,s more they shot the dogs infront of a child those were his pets.those swat bullies endangered the welfare of a minor child and assaulted the child and the mother.and further more they had the wrong home.to me those afficers are nothing but gun toting gun weilding swat bullies and animal killers.i want to see them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,so that they cannot do this to someone else.noone has the right to shoot an innocent animal.nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
Corbin Schleider May 7, 2010 | 1:10 a.m.

I read the initial article last night and when I saw the video I was appalled simply at the fact that they shot the dog but the more that I thought about it the more I realized that they were not in the right and they aren't to blame ether. The SWAT team was simply carrying out a search warrant for someone who was a suspected drug dealer and while the video did not ever show the dogs so no one would be able to analyze if what happened was actually appropriate or not.

I do want to remind people that while a Pit Bull can be an amazing and loyal dog, the history shows that they are also violent so I think that for the protection of the SWAT team, the officer did use necessary force and before anyone replies with "He should have called a vet" let me ask you this. What would a vet be able to do? A police officer is trained to know how to use his weapon, I'm sure they are able to shoot with accuracy and efficacy so while the initial shot may have wounded the dog the officer proceed to kill. Let me also remind you that there is no law that I'm aware of that requires an officer to call on medical attention for a dog.

While I don't agree with the raid and I don't really agree that they should charge him for having misdemeanor amounts of marijuana in his home, rules are rules and we are required to abide by them.

(Report Comment)
Beverly Schooler May 7, 2010 | 5:34 a.m.

This makes me cry! I don't think they had to shoot the dog

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox May 7, 2010 | 6:22 a.m.

The most frightening aspect is the fact that they believe that they did the right thing, you would hope cops would know right from wrong but here they still think it's ok to invade the home of a free American and kill their pets based on an unconfirmed tip that non-violent crime may be taking place.

It's not that they served the warrant 8 days late, it's that they served it on a young family with the SWAT team. If this is what they use SWAT for then we don't need a SWAT team. A point I will be expressing to my new councilman and our new mayor.

(Report Comment)
Anonymous Anonymous May 7, 2010 | 10:06 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Carl Kabler May 7, 2010 | 12:32 p.m.

Feel *safer* yet? Another 'success' in the war on 'weed??? Didn't Columbia voters make it clear they wanted this to be one of the LEAST pursued 'crimes'??? Are police depts NOT accountable to voters??? How about police chiefs???

I definately feel all of the violent cop shows the state-run Mockingbird media shows and brainwashes the public with is having its DESIRED affect of making some officers and perhaps some depts believe that most anything goes now, tasing , shooting, breaking down doors etc. if it somehow might involve 'drugs'. It's really a shame IMO this 'drug war' launched by people in ivory towers most of us will never meet are turning neighbor against neighbor and creating so much hostility and anger between citizens and those on our police forces just like alcohol prohibiton did to many of our parents and grandparents. Sad, and IMO SO needless and futile. Has anything really changed for the better since this 'war' has been waged other than peoples lives and families have been disrupted and torn apart FAR more than any affect 'weed' might have had. And of course we have created a whole INDUSTRY for PROFIT that exists only to make ever more and more and more 'busts', and cannibilizes otherwise harmless citizens and families in order to keep the whole charade going. WHAT A RACKET.

Amazing too it takes a DOG??? getting killed to bring it to attention when so many people die and are imprisoned EVERY DAY in this 'futile' war. But perhaps it creates jobs and career opportunities in a country that has shipped out most of it's manufacturing base, perhaps all we have left is to cannibilize each other. Well anyway these guys made the national news, congratulations. Let's see what people have to say about this:

http://www.infowars.com/video-of-swat-ra...

(Report Comment)
jeff anderson May 7, 2010 | 4:28 p.m.

Yea this is seriously bad this is the future for all of us if we dont wake up and proscute these officers to the fullest.make sure they can never be in any athorty position for the rest of there lives and never have the privlege to hold any fire arm again ever.the fact that the chief said we dont have any procedure on what to do with dogs when raiding a home. WE JUST SHOOT THEM IF THEY GET AGGRESSIVE. is so dumb well then i guess he should be fird for not doing his job your suppost to cover every angle in trainning for this type of stuff. So i guess all dogs are considerd agressive when you kick the front door of there home in. and o yea what is the role of any dog to Protect ITS OWNERS.. size or breed does not matter. if the people in this town do not stand up and do something quick too have this taken care of then you all might as well lay down and dont complain when something happens to you. thats real

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 7, 2010 | 6:00 p.m.

CORBIN THOSE OFFICERS WERE IN THE WRONG!!!! THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE SHOT THAT BOYS DOGS INFRONT OF HIM,THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE SHOT THOSE DOGS PERIOD.WHAT THEY DID WAS A CRIME.

Attorney General's office and demand the prosecution and suspension of the officers involved.A.G. Chris Koster,I urge you to prosecute the police officers featured in the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwSwv...... Missouri state statute MO ST 578.012 1 (1) & (2) which reads:1. A person is guilty of animal abuse when a person:(1) Intentionally or purposely kills an animal in any manner not allowed by or expressly exempted from the provisions of sections 578.005 to 578.023 and 273.030, RSMo;(2) Purposely or intentionally causes injury or suffering to an animal;The officers in the video are not exempt under any provision of the state statues and as such should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 7, 2010 | 6:04 p.m.

I SENT THAT TO THE MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL,I HOPE THAT THEY WILL DO SOMETHING! LIKE PROSECUTE THOSE OFFICERS,YES THE POLICE CHEIF IS JUST AS GUILTY AS THE SWAT BULLIES!!!!

(Report Comment)
Corbin Schleider May 7, 2010 | 7:08 p.m.

Carla, if you were in the situation. What would you do? If you were doing your job and the dog was aggressive would you shoot it or would you let the pit bull grab your arm, let, neck, face or some other part of your body and latch on? I can't speak for you but I don't think you would be willing to allow a dog to do that.

(Report Comment)
Brenton Matter May 7, 2010 | 10:51 p.m.

An internal investigation from the leader of the internal department. Wonder how that will end up? No, I don't really. It will be stated later that everyone was just following proper orders. I got 5 bucks on that.

This video is disgusting. I am sorry I watched this, and sorry for the child, pet, and people in Columbia. Shooting a kid's dog in his own house.. that has got to be good for his future mental health. This is not the America I want. These police need to be replaced with people interested in public service over paychecks, personal safety, or protocol. If personal safety is such an issue, become an accountant. Don't join the police or military. Take up a job that does not require knocking down doors.

If you shoot my dog THEN try and 'act civil' or expect the same, I will break your nose. The police would have several charges against me then. The guy in this video handles it better than I would. I am very surprised this video did not get taken by the police. Writing our politicians atm.

(Report Comment)
Jose Melendez May 8, 2010 | 7:39 a.m.

The Columbia, Missouri SWAT team and the city attorney's office WANTS YOUR FEEDBACK on how this incident was handled:

http://blog.norml.org/2010/05/06/missour......

Over 800,000 Americans are arrested every year over this issue, some like the folks above, who were raided by the Columbia, Missouri SWAT team, had their pet dogs shot (Just say no! Really? A Corgi? Really?) and a child threatened with abduction, all under color of law*.

Yes, thousands of emails may be ignored, but add dozens of well reasoned, articulate calls, faxes and letters a day and you have their attention. Of course, include your letterhead if you are an attorney, it gives them . . . pause.

Remember: Call. Write. But be polite!

Columbia Police Department
600 East Walnut
Columbia, MO 65201-4491
573-874-7652 / FAX: 573-874-3142

online contact info:

http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Police/Divis......

http://ago.mo.gov/contactus.htm

- - -

* The demonstrably false claim used to arrest pot users is that cannabis and cannabinoids are lawfully listed in Schedule I, having “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”.

Here’s the truth for those who can handle it:

Marinol is a Schedule III synthetic chemical that works like THC, a psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It is administered at 100 percent strength, up to five times more powerful than the strongest available strains on the black market, about twice as strong as hashish. Generically named Dronabinol, warning labels specifically permit driving and using machinery when users know how the medicine affects them.

On October 7, 2003, the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded patent #6630507
(http://tinyurl.com/classactionlawsuit ) to the Department of Health and Human Services, acknowledging an accepted medical use in treatment for cannabinoids, and detailing a wide variety of safe, acceptable uses under medical supervision for which their “inventions” applied.

Got reparations?

(Report Comment)
Sheila Pauley May 8, 2010 | 5:13 p.m.

To me there are a bunch of things clearly wrong. Even if they did have a warrant regardless of it's age, don't they do survellience anymore? Would that not have told them more appropriately how to handle the situation? A child was involved here and that's disturbing. What says that the father was smoking the pot in front of the child? It was personal use, not that I condone the use of it, but c'mon.... how many people drink alcohol in front of their children, far worse in front of than behind. So what that alcohol is legal and marijuana is not, alcohol is far more deadly in most circumstances.

And then there's the issue of children sleeping with their dogs. It's not against the law to sleep on the floor and my children have done it many times when they were little. If they fell asleep there, we didn't always just take them to bed. What if that child had been sleeping on the floor beside that dog and they SHOT the CHILD? Do you think the public would have been more upset?!!!

Then the dogs themselves, one was a puppy, corgi no less, who are not aggressive and I've seen plenty of pit bulls who aren't aggressive as well. For whatever reason people like those dogs, I don't own one and have no desire to own one, but just the same, I don't not like them either, they are fine dogs, IMO. Look up the statistics, pit bull attacks are far less than those of German Shephards, Labradors, chihuahua's and Yorkies. I completely disagree with Corbin's assessment. There were other ways to handle this - the father was not aggressive and didn't even know what he'd done wrong. These officers were pumped and agressive - these dogs, as with any dog in just about any household had no idea whether these were police officers or a burgler. Had this same dog attacked a burgler, he would have been praised for saving the family. But then again, not one ounce of me believes the officers were attacked in any way by either animal. All I heard on the video was a bark, bark and shots fired with joyful killing, wounding and maiming.

Is this how I want to be protected? Heck NO!!!

I have very little regard for how the officers in my time here on earth have handled things anyway. Ninety percent of the ones I've met have been full of hate and apparently don't like their jobs or don't want to help the public. Wonder why I don't call them? I don't trust them, period!

I live outside of Columbia in a neighboring town and our officers are the same exact way.

In my opinion, these officers should be made an example to what the public will not tolerate, we are not at war, especially over misdemeanor pot. My opinion is they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of any law available. Again my opinion, but they have acted in no less of a capacity of a drug dealer themselves.

(Report Comment)
Sheila Pauley May 8, 2010 | 5:14 p.m.

Had survellience been done before the warrant was issued as I stated earlier, they would have known these dogs EXISTED, they would have known the child and mother EXISTED. They could have been prepared and brought in an expert dog handler. These guys had shields, kevlar as well as vests, their threat from the animals was minimal at best. What they did was a heinous crime!!

Let me ask this, put one of these officers in the position of the person being served the warrant and take the same actions - HOW WOULD THE OFFICER (as a public person) HAVE FELT ABOUT BEING TREATED THIS SAME WAY IF IT WAS HIS FAMILY AND HIS DOGS????? I'm betting too much force would still be the issue.

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 8, 2010 | 8:19 p.m.

uh corbin or whom ever you are read this and wheep!!!!

,I urge you to prosecute the police officers featured in the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwSwv...... Missouri state statute MO ST 578.012 1 (1) & (2) which reads:1. A person is guilty of animal abuse when a person:(1) Intentionally or purposely kills an animal in any manner not allowed by or expressly exempted from the provisions of sections 578.005 to 578.023 and 273.030, RSMo;(2) Purposely or intentionally causes injury or suffering to an animal;The officers in the video are not exempt under any provision of the state statues and as such should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
www.youtube.com
www.youtube.com

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 8, 2010 | 8:33 p.m.

corbin let me reiterate those dogs were in what is known as kennel crates,those dogs were not a threat to anyone.again what those swat bullies did was wrong.alot of people with dogs and i,m one of those we use kennel crates so that the dog knows it has boundaries.i personally do not have a kennel crate for my dog,but alot of dog owners do.the kennel crate doors were shut so that the dogs could not wander the house,and so that the dog learns it,s boundaries.it was a crime to shoot those dogs,the swat team violated the missouri statute on animal abuse.i sent a complaint to the national humane society which i,m a member of against the columbia missouri police department and against the swat team.it is now in their hands as to what they do about this.
if the national humane society choses to file charges they have my blessing.my dog is like a child to me i cannot have anymore children i had a hysterectomy years ago so my dog is my child,she is my family.corbin do you have a dog by the way? or do you not like dogs? well maybe you should go and volunteer at a shelter and learn how to interact with dogs and with animals.our dogs are our family nuff said!!!!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 8, 2010 | 9:04 p.m.

Corbin, what I don't understand is why officers need to be put in situations like that in the first place. How critical for the immediate protection or safety of someone, was busting in like that really, I just don't understand, there seems to be (at least it appears) such aggressiveness and even hatred now on the part of *some*? of those who choose to 'serve' concerning their fellow citizens. Why is this? Directed from Washington? Sensationalized by the Mockingbird press?

I remember when I was younger ( a few decades ago) the local police would occasionally have a cold one with their FELLOW citizens, they might come by a party and stop and chat, there wasn't any WAR going on, they did their job to keep people SAFE, but they used DISCRETION, they didn't treat all small and petty crimes as if they were major homicides or brutal assaults.

I recall sometimes I would hear ( or know) of cases where they would catch someone with contaband and just pour it out on the ground or confiscate it and say I don't want to EVER see you again,, if someone underage had alcohol they MIGHT just have to pour it out depending on circumstances as well,or if someone had too much the main thing was to have a sober driver NOT necessarily just to make an arrest for the sake of how many tickets you could write,it seems so much different now, at least in many places,it's hard to understand how this seeming 'militarization' is really making anyone any safer or how it has led to better relations between the depts and the people.

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 8, 2010 | 10:30 p.m.

i,ve seen mr&mrs whitfill at the columbia vetinary teaching hospital with their dogs,their dogs would not have hurt a fly,
i hope they sue the city and sue the columbia police,they have my blessing!

(Report Comment)
Charles Farley May 8, 2010 | 11:13 p.m.

It's sad what happened to the dogs, but the killing of the dogs is a red herring.

The real issue here is not the killing of the dogs. The issue here is that a paramilitary police force, armed with assault rifles, storm into a family home in the wee hours of the morning, shooting, all for a gram of marijuana.

The police say they had a search warrant; but, why? Columbia has already passed a town ordinance stating crimes of violence and property theft should take high priority and drug violations, low priority.

The police chief contradicts himself. He says the warrant was served 8 days after the warrant was obtained. The chief stated a lack of man power was the reason for the delay in serving the warrant. But if Columbia Police are so busy, why are they bothering with any Marijuana cases?

So let's get this straight. The police chief wants us to believe his officers are so busy they are 8 days behind on serving warrants. However, they have enough time to dedicate an entire night to dedicate 7 officers to bust a falsely "suspected" low level pot dealer. Right. Sounds like someone is lying, and a lot of of CYA going on.

The police chief should be fired. The mayor should be voted out. The judge who signed the warrant should be named, and voted out of office as well.

It's time for Columbia to send a message to their elected officials that situations like this will not be tolerated.

Also, do not forget: Federal subsidies encourage, and provide funding for these paramilitary weapons and tactics for local police forces.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/keeping-amer...

(Report Comment)
Jose Melendez May 9, 2010 | 5:48 a.m.

Most comments here seem well reasoned. I challenge anyone who believes this raid was legal to do your own research and find out that cannabis is not lawfully scheduled:

http://tinyurl.com/classactionlawsuit

http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/scheduli...

Call. Write. But be polite!

Columbia Police Department
600 East Walnut
Columbia, MO 65201-4491
573-874-7652 / FAX: 573-874-3142

Missouri Attorney General
http://ago.mo.gov/contactus.htm

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 9, 2010 | 9:07 a.m.

Why not bring drug policy in Missouri in line with what has happened in many Western States and other countries. While I'm generally not in favor of even more gov. control, especially on issues I feel can be better resolved by a 'free' market, I would still rather see canabis use and distribution managed by someone competant, I think overall going the medical marihauna route would do alot to dry up the 'black market' and a major portion of the violence and crime and gang warfare it FUELS.

I am not totally against perhaps the issuence of a medical 'permit', it might be a lesser of two evils comprimise, get the issue off the streets and into the hands of someone competant to address what is really in the best interest of the people being considered. It would be interesting to see more data from states that have considered this approach, I would have to think it would go along way to ending situations such as we see in the video and the so many others we never see, and be an incentive to dramatically reducing violent crime, rather than escalating it.

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 9, 2010 | 4:46 p.m.

corbin,
you never answered my question do you have a dog yes or no? and are you one of the swat team members responsible for the shooting of the dogs? those dogs were in kennel crates,the dogs were not a threat but your wise guy buddy bullies shot the dogs anyway,and also fired assault weapons near a minor which in my estimation is child endangerment of a minor.you also terrorized the boy and his mother,i also read that you cuffed that boy and his mother,that in my mind is terroism.in my mind that is a crime.i will see to it that your swat team goes to prison,i will see to it that the whole team is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.i hope the national humane society pursues charges against you and your swat bullies.

(Report Comment)
Corbin Schleider May 9, 2010 | 11:19 p.m.

Carla, As far as I know. Those dogs were not in crates. I have tried to keep up with most of the break throughs on the case and from what I've read they weren't. However, If you could point me to the article that proves me wrong then I will happily take back every comment that I have made.

I understand the attachment with animals. I had to put down one of my Corgis a few months ago so when the officers did shoot and wound a Corgi, my heart dropped. I understand how a corgi is a loving and affectionate dog because I have one and she is like a child to me. Trust me, I love my dog and would be just as angry as Whitworth.

I apologize for not responding quickly enough, I'll try and do better.

As far as the raid goes. I think it's stupid. While there is violence behind weed sales, marijuana itself is not harmful and people like Whitworth shouldn't be prosecuted for the little possession he had.

Carl, While I didn't grow up in your generation though I wish I did because it was much more relaxed. We are forced to adapt and times are ever changing. I do think that there is some shady parts of this story and I am in no way supporting the raid because as I said earlier, marijuana is in no way harmful to the human body as stats have proved it as not one person has died with marijuana being the direct cause.

(Report Comment)
Corbin Schleider May 9, 2010 | 11:30 p.m.

Carla, I was not one of those SWAT team members. I'm a student!

(Report Comment)
Dustin Brown May 10, 2010 | 2:18 a.m.

if this dog was sooooooooooo dangerous why didnt it attack them at the front door??? Because it was either scared to death or in a cage.......real big men shoot a 7 year olds dog in front of him that wont traumatize him Im sure....I love the fake concern too "does she have a coat and shoes?" what a bunch of cowards

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 10, 2010 | 5:24 a.m.

corbin,what those swat bullies did was wrong,they did not have the right to shoot those dogs period,i will see to it that the shooters are prosecuted and go to prison.
i have a dog she,s a good dog,she is a chow/siberian husky,finnish spitz mix,she is 14 years old and has adrenal gland atypical cushings.i love her as if she were my child.i,m 56 and yes i grew up in a time when cops shooting dogs didn,t happen.i grew up in a time where i didn,t fear cops now after what i witnessed in the video now i do,i fear for my dogs safety here in columbia.i guess those swat thugs get off on shooting dogs and think nothing of it.those dogs were under medical care at the vetinary teaching hospital,i saw the couple there with their dogs,most dogs go there for severe illness,s such as what my dog has and also for cancer.so i know that those dogs were kept in kennel crates that is done so that the dog is comfortable and knows it,s boundaries.mr&mrs whitworth loved their dogs,just like i love my dog.their little boy should not have had to witness his dogs being shot.also guns should not have been fired in a home where there is a minor child what if the child had been hit then what? as far as i,m concerned those swat team members endangered a minor child.i hope they are prosecuted for that also.

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 10, 2010 | 8:54 a.m.

Corbin, this War has been going on nearly 75 years, what has it done positive, anything really? Like you perhaps, I guess I just don't see it.

Yes, we are forced to adapt and times ARE changing, people are starting to really speak up, get organized, and say Enough! There HAVE to be better ways of dealing with 'drug policy' than busting down citizens doors and shooting their pets in the middle of the night, many other states and localities ARE changing,they are adapting,learning to work WITH citizens, and learning to manage in a NON-VIOLENT and non-excessively confrontational way.

Columbia and Missouri citizens have the power and the RIGHT to tailor laws disgned to benefit THEM, I suggest if people have an issue with this, they should stay engaged in the Democratic process and work hard to try and find leaders who are also sick and tired of this War and all of it's casualties and want to look and work for new ways of addressing this issue. Someone with vision, and not stuck in a failed past.

The city of Columbia I suppose, could take full control of this issue, it could perhaps allow it's doctors to issue medical marijauna cards to those who have a need and have been prescribed by doctors feeling this is in the best interest of their patient. I think doctors are competant to make this assessment, and they could screen as well and monitor pateients for any sign of negative effects, or loss of positive effects,any 'hard' drug use, malnutrition, disease, etc. I think this would be an overall plus to the community.

Certainly not a perfect system by any means, and again I shudder at giving gov. in general in more control over citizens personal choices, but maybe at least citizens dogs might be safer not to mention citizens themselves, and we could perhaps end the 3 a.m. Rambo antics carried out against sleeping Columbia families, simply based upon this issue.

(Report Comment)
Corbin Schleider May 10, 2010 | 7:18 p.m.

Carla, there is so much uncertainty with the raid. I would like to know if the dogs were in kennels or not. I know in a PR the chief of police said they weren't.

Carl, I'm not even keen on marijuana for medicinal. It should be completely legal or at least decriminalized partly its not harmful what so ever. Alcohol and Tobacco should be illegal however because they contribute to more deaths that one could keep up with.

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 10, 2010 | 9:01 p.m.

the police cheif is just trying to protect his good ole boys
by saying the dogs weren,t in kennel crates.don,t believe what the police cheif says.watch the video again corbin!!!!! i saw kennell crates with dogs inside.i still reiterate that the shooting of the dogs was a senseless act,they violated the missouri state statutes on animal abuse.i will not rest until they are prosecuted and go to prison.

(Report Comment)
Corbin Schleider May 10, 2010 | 9:32 p.m.

Carla, I watched the video a few times and I couldn't make out crates. Can you tell me at what time in the video you saw them? I cannot seam to find them.

(Report Comment)
Alex Russell May 10, 2010 | 11:38 p.m.

I first made this comment over on the non-update version of the story, but I think too late for anyone to see it, the comments had stopped and everyone was here reading this version. I'm pasting it in here, because I think the point is important - the change Burton has made is likely to make things worse and more dangerous:

"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."

So, the Chief thinks that the problem in this case, the problem with this video, is that there were big amounts of drugs in that house when the tip came in and the warrant was issued, but that they missed. And evidently that, if they'd only raided the house and found those drugs, there wouldn't be all this objection.

Continuing a policy of raiding on a search warrant, but now raiding IMMEDIATELY, reduces time and opportunity to gain further important information. Information like who is actually in the house, and whether just knocking on the door with the search warrant might be better in this case. Raiding IMMEDIATELY increases the chances of mistakes and of things going wrong. As in this case - or worse.

I realize the Chief might find this comment to be rather puzzling quibbling... to remedy which I suggest that he actually ask even one person who was horrified by the video what it was that was wrong in the video.

I am amazed by his policy reaction. Would ANYONE who was shocked and angered by the raid shown in the video say that the problem with what they saw was that the raiders did not find a large amount of drugs?

(Report Comment)
carla thomas May 12, 2010 | 5:18 a.m.

the problem i have with the video is the shooting of the dogs,which was unnecessary uncalled for it was senseless,they did it infront of the little boy with no regards of the little boys feelings.i believe animals have rights.what the swat team did was wrong.they violated missouri state statute on animal abuse and animal cruelty.they also endangered the welfare of a minor child by firing assault weapons while there was a minor child in the home.i will not rest until the swat team is charged with animal abuse and animal cruelty and animal neglect,i will see to it that they are prosecuted and tried before a jury of their peers,and convicted and go to prison where they can never hurt another animal again.they need to realize what they did was wrong.i hope they have a very long time to sit in a prison cell and think about what they did.

(Report Comment)
Yes No June 4, 2010 | 10:50 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
JT Coyle August 3, 2010 | 4:45 p.m.

Corbin, this is for you. The SWAT team has fully automatic weapons, martial arts training, and full body armor and shields. I don't care how big of a pit bull it is, it is still no match for a SWAT team officer. They were never in any danger. Cops just want people to feel sorry for them, but my father used to ride with them when he worked for the newspaper. Most cops are more crooked than the people they bust. Just a for instance, cops taking turns with prostitutes in custody. The cops here also had no procedure in place for dealing with animals, except for "we just shoot them". How archaic is that? Is that how far we have come in society?

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 3, 2010 | 5:04 p.m.

Nobody complained when two Pit Bulls killed on Garth St near Oak in a raid the year before by CPD when the guy was an African American?

How come all of the big hoopla when it is a White guy?

Go look it up in the archives.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 3, 2010 | 5:47 p.m.

Link it up Carlos!

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 3, 2010 | 8:26 p.m.

John I cannot find it but I know it was in the news in 2008 or 2007. I could not get the word string correct I guess. It was a raid on a duplex on Garth Street near Oak on that Pink Duplex that is just North of Ash on the right hand side. CPD raided it for a drug warrant if memory serves me correct and there was a African American couple living there with two Pit Bills at the time. CPD had to shoot both of the dogs due to their aggressiveness and there was a short uproar over why didn't they just Taser them instead. No huge hoopla was made after the arrest and conviction of the man there.

Maybe one of the reporters here can reference search their archives. I just could not input the right word string.

I found one reference here about half way down the page but it only says one Pit Bull but I remember the story talking about two Pit Bulls:
http://www.420magazine.com/forums/intern...

Hard link to render caution makes reference to the Tribune as source:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...

More info here I just got sick of digging due the amount of hits on this raid issue presented here:
http://www.google.com/search?q=Columbia+...

Nobody screamed and cried over those dogs deaths so why these? Huh cause the guy was White perhaps?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 3, 2010 | 11:39 p.m.

My guess is the video is what brought about the outrage since you didn't hear hardly a peep out of the online commenters when the raid went down in February or whenever it was.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 4, 2010 | 1:10 p.m.

Yes John videos are made today to entice others to action.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 4, 2010 | 2:01 p.m.

Except the police themselves made that video, not any of the activists who are unhappy with the raid (other than uploading it to YouTube)...

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 4, 2010 | 3:59 p.m.

Right John I know that but activists will get hyperactive with "voice overs" on a video of this nature and that stirs up others in the process. Many times once a video is released it will be downloaded and individuals add their own voice overs to stir up the general public. I'm not saying this was done with this video but it has been done with a lot of others.

(Report Comment)
Prof atlarge October 27, 2010 | 1:52 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Ellis Smith October 27, 2010 | 5:48 a.m.

@ Prof atlarge:

If you have something worth saying, why don't you put your real name on it?

Come on, Missourian, enforce your rules!

(Report Comment)
Laura Johnston October 27, 2010 | 7:08 a.m.

All,
I've notified the user who posts under the name prof at large that we require real names.

Laura Johnston, news editor, ColumbiaMissourian.com

(Report Comment)
Elaine Hartley August 29, 2011 | 6:57 a.m.

Welcome to Afghanistan folks. Same tactics, only difference is they killed the dog instead of the kid. This behavior should terrify everyone in this town. It is happening all over the US and should also terrify all Americans.

(Report Comment)

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