Laurel Matthews, a supervisory program specialist with the Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services (DOJ COPS) office, says it's an awful lot. She calls fatal police vs. dogs encounters an "epidemic" and estimates that 25 to 30 pet dogs are killed each day by law enforcement officers.
Cops kill dogs at an alarming rate. And it remains alarming, despite the increased possibility of them encountering actually dangerous dogs. True, cops are often the first to respond to calls about stray dogs. But they also put themselves in danger by wandering into fenced areas meant to keep dogs contained when pursuing suspects or just meandering around in hopes of finding something that justifies their intrusion.More than half of our federal court districts have held that killing or wounding a family pet is a "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment. Nonetheless, this behavior persists, with cops seemingly willing to shoot any animal that heads towards them, even when propelled by nothing more than their innate friendliness and curiosity.Being trigger-happy in the presence of animals can have more serious consequences. Cops have wounded and killed human beings while trying to shoot dogs that had the temerity to ignore shouted orders.A recent lawsuit [PDF] has highlighted another senseless killing of a family pet by a cop. (While multiple outlets covered this lawsuit, Law and Crime actually posted the complaint, which is why we're linking to that site.)According to the lawsuit, Wendy Love and Jay Hamm had stopped in the parking lot of a vacant business to do some work on a second-hand ice machine and give their three dogs a chance to stretch. The business had no name on the front and all the windows were covered. There were no other people or vehicles in the lot.However, the business owner was apparently monitoring still-live CCTV cameras. He called the Loveland (CO) police department, asking them to send someone out to remove them from the premises, claiming he was concerned the couple was going to tamper with his locked dumpster. The couple was parked nowhere near the apparently-sacred dumpster nor did they approach it at any time, something admitted by the business owner during his call to dispatch.Officer Mathew Grashorn was the first to arrive. Within 13 seconds, he had exited his vehicle and mortally wounded the couple's 14-month-old dog.There's body cam video of the shooting.It happens so fast it's entirely contained in the camera's 30-second rolling buffer, hence the initial lack of sound. What happens in these 15 seconds is the officer's arrival, which is followed almost immediately by the officer brandishing his weapon. It's unclear which threat justified this action. Was it the people hanging out in a vacant parking lot? Or was it the happy dog approaching him at a medium lope? Whatever it was, it resulted in the dog being shot by the officer. And those shots resulted in the dog dying, euthanized four days later because of the severity of the wounds.There's something incredibly eerie about the recording. The violence is silent. That disturbing silence is finally interrupted by the distressed shouts of Wendy Love, the first of which is rendered soundless by the body cam's built-in recording features.This probably won't have much legal relevance, but it's still worth pointing out: the couple accuses the city of fostering this shoot-first behavior in Loveland police officers by continually stressing the importance of protecting local businesses. As the lawsuit notes, this "business-first" mentality has resulted in other acts of police violence. (There are recordings of these incidents as well.)
On June 26, 2020, Walmart suffered no loss when dementia-sufferer and 73-year-old woman Karen Garner walked out of the store without paying for $13.88 of items. When confronted, she gave the items back and attempted to pay for them. Walmart refused and instead called LPD to deal with it. LPD sent multiple officers, including Sergeant Metzler, to locate and tackle Ms. Garner, causing her to suffer a broken and dislocated shoulder. The multiple officers involved did this knowing that Walmart hadn’t suffered any loss. They did it pursuant to the aforementioned policy of making large, demonstrative showings of allegiance to Loveland businesses.On July 20, 2020, Target contacted Loveland PD to deal with a man (Keenan Stuckey) suffering from mental health issues in their parking lot, requesting that they arrest or remove him even though he was breaking no laws and bothering nobody. Loveland PD sent six officers there in minutes, and they promptly brutalized the man with batons, kicking him, punching him, and doing a pile-driver type of jump atop his lifeless body.
The lawsuit also notes the Loveland PD's internal investigation cleared the officer of any wrongdoing, claiming he reasonably feared for his safety. But if the officer was fearful, he didn't show it (other than the immediate use of his weapon). He could have retreated to the safety of the car he had just exited. He could have stepped behind his still-open door. He could have used any less-lethal weapon to subdue the animal. But he chose to kill.As if this isn't enough to show just how dangerous law enforcement officers can be, there's this:
Loveland sergeants and officers next discussed together concern that Ms. Love and Mr. Hamm had mentioned sharing what had happened with the media. Sergeant Metzler told Officer Grashorn that “since [Hamm’s] saying he’s going to go to the press, we better scratch him a ticket for something.”The officers decided they would claim that Herkimer [the dog shot by the officer] had attacked Officer Grashorn. They did in fact tell this lie over and over again. They told this lie to Larimer County Animal Control and to the veterinarians attempting to treat Herkimer.[...]This lie was also at the foundation of the Defendant officers’ decision to give Mr. Hamm a ticket for having a “dangerous dog,” a charge that the Larimer County District Attorney’s office later dismissed as not having any basis in fact.
It's not enough that officers can kill people (or their pets) with near impunity. They also have the power to punish people for having their pets killed by an officer. In this case, it appears this was done to get out ahead of the pet owner's attempt to tell his story via social media. With the only recording being in police possession, the "our word against theirs" would have ensured the cops' narrative -- the one about an unsecured, "dangerous" dog -- would receive the most air time and been immediately granted the most credibility.That's an absurd amount of power. And it comes with so very little accountability. The lawsuit -- even with the seemingly-damning recording -- is still a longshot. And the couple doesn't get to use tax dollars to move their allegations forward. It's coming out of their own pockets while the city gets to defend itself and its officers using unlimited funds provided by Loveland residents. And even if the officer is found to be at fault, he'll likely be indemnified, meaning it won't cost him anything either. The city will just take that judgment money from taxpayers as well.The whole thing was recorded. There can be no claims that something is being "taken out of context." It shows everything the cop did, which was respond to a possible trespass call with deadly force -- all within 15 seconds of arriving on the scene. The danger was entirely imagined. And it was justified by retconning the encounter with the issuing of a "dangerous animal" citation. It's ugly enough that a pet was killed for no justifiable reason. Attempting to punish the pet owner for witnessing an unjustified act of violence is disgusting.
The gaming industry modding wars continue. We had recently discussed Nintendo's continued war on anyone who mods its games, including shutting down tournaments for incredibly minor uses of mods that make those tournaments possible. We've also been discussing Take-Two's attack on its modding community for the Grand Theft Auto franchise. On the flip side, companies like CD Projekt Red and Bethesda have so embraced their own modding communities as to have hired some of them onto their teams as salaried employees.I have no idea why this has suddenly become a thing over the past several months, but these binary stories are coming far more frequently than they previously did. Everyone is in one camp or the other: embrace the modding community of fans or smack them around. There is a correct answer to all of this, of course, and it seems clear that the answer is to treat your greatest fans in a way that is cool and human. Nintendo, giant in the industry as they might be, loses good will and gains little by exerting strict control over how its games are played. Take-Two, same story. Meanwhile, those that embrace their biggest fans get to keep their games relevant for longer through mods, build up good will with their customers, and even get to pull from a talent pool that materializes all on its own.But some companies just don't get it and have to be educated in the court of public opinion. Jagex, makers of RuneScape, are just such a company. Just days ago, the company announced a shutdown of a major RuneScape mod that would bring HD graphics to the game, called Runelite HD. It was scheduled to be released on 9/8/21, but then...
In this blog we’d like to clarify our stance on third-party HD clients (and other projects which seek to radically change the visual appearance of the game). We know you’ve got lots of questions about them, and we think this will provide you with all the clarity we need.Yesterday we contacted the developers of known HD projects and we asked them to stop development of their projects, because this is a project we are directly investigating at Jagex. We look forward to being able to share progress as our own in-house project with Old School’s visuals unfolds.
As Kotaku notes, there are a couple of problems with this. First off, nothing in what Runelite HD offers appears to violate the modding guidelines that Jagex has published. So, mods are allowed under certain rules, and Runelite HD developer 117 appears to have followed those rules, but the project was still shut down the day before its release. Second, based on 117's own public statements, Jagex's plan to have a graphical update to RuneScape was still essentially in the exploratory phase, leading 117 to offer a simple solution.
I offered a compromise of removing my project from RuneLite once they are ready to release theirs, in addition to allowing them collaborative control over the visual direction of my project. They declined outright.So, it appears that this is the end. Approximately 2000 of hours of work over two years. A huge outpouring of support from all of you. I could never have imagined the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve had to this project.
We hear your feedback loud and clear and we’ve been discussing that feedback all day and, while discussions continue, we absolutely intend to act on it.Our conversations today have also included 117Scape and Adam from RuneLite and we are actively exploring options on how we can work together to offer 117Scape’s plug-in as a bridge until our own version is ready for release.
The very compromise that 117 offered is now what's on the table. This whole thing could have been completely avoided if Jagex hadn't decided that direct profits and control were somehow worth pissing off a major swath of its biggest fans. It's a complete own-goal, in other words, where the end result is what the community wanted all along, only now they're absolutely furious with the company.Again, how is this smart? How is it good business? How does this desire for complete control keep happening, even when it regularly results in public blowback?