Missouri SWAT team shoots family dog during raid over “small amount” of marijuana

Do you have a story of police killing your dog?  Do you want to tell your story on NORML SHOW LIVE?  You can remain anonymous and it only takes a ten minute phone call.  Contact me at stash@norml.org.

Update:  News of this raid and the video has gone viral and the Columbia Police Department is scrambling to put the spin on this.  Let them know how you feel; vote in this local news poll on the issue:


(Columbia Daily-Tribune) In response to widespread “misinformation” developing on message boards and blogs, as well as a death threat toward Columbia police officers, Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid and Burton held a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Burton said police have fielded questions from several agitated callers concerning the two dogs shot. Some callers have received incorrect information that the corgi is the dog that was killed for being aggressive toward officers, and others told police they were told the pit bull that was killed because of its aggressive behavior was in a cage.

“It’s simply not true,” Burton said.

The chief, who is personally conducting the internal investigation, walked reporters through his understanding of the incident. Three officers shot at the pit bull, and the first missed completely, which is when the corgi is believed to have been shot in the paw, he said. The pit bull acted aggressively toward a SWAT member again as they pushed into the home, which resulted in the animal being shot, he said. After being shot, it moved to attack a SWAT member, which is when the dog was killed.

Here it comes: the victim was a dangerous druggie, a narcotics kingpin with a lethally aggressive pit bull.  Because two confidential informants (read: snitches with something to gain by rolling on someone, true or false accusations be damned) alleged he had large amounts of marijuana and a police garbage search yielded pipes and baggies with pot residue on them.

(Columbia Daily-Tribune) “It was unfortunate timing,” said Lt. Scott Young, SWAT commander.

Deputy Chief Tom Dresner, former SWAT commander, has said he is confident narcotics were in Whitworth’s residence before police entry.

Columbia police spokeswoman Jessie Haden said there sometimes was a lag between the time a warrant was issued and when SWAT could execute the warrant. The problem was SWAT members’ primary assignments, such as their role as beat officers or investigators, would take precedence over SWAT and they would have to work overtime to participate in SWAT operations.

So, in the police opinion, the mistake wasn’t in sending automatic-weapon wielding cops into the family home, shooting up the place with a child present and killing the family pet.  It’s that they served the warrant too late to catch the victim with what they believed to be large amounts of weapons of mass destruction, er, marijuana.

There is a Columbia City Council meeting on May 17th at 7pm.  Blogging’s great, but in-person protesting and activism are better.  I’m calling on our Missouri NORML chapters to come out and demand an end to these tactics.  Click the link, join the one near you, and get involved in fighting back.

We’ve told the story of drug war canicide – dog murder – before here on the NORML Stash Blog. From the LAPD dog killing during dispensary raids to the Buffalo man who pleaded with cops to let him put his beloved pets in another room before cops gunned them down, and even the mayor of a town in Maryland forced to sit handcuffed near a pool of his slaughtered black labs’ blood during a SWAT raid that turned out to be in error.

This incident in Missouri happened in February and is just one of the 100-150 militaristic raids on homes every day in America, most often to serve narcotics warrants, which usually means marijuana, the substance involved in almost half of all drug arrests.  But never before have we brought you actual video of law enforcement protecting us from adults smoking a bowl in their own home and serving us by executing family pets in front of small children.

(Warning: if you love your dog as much as I love Roscoe P. Coltrane, my Jack Russell terrier, scratch its belly and get to your serenity place before you view this.  It is very disturbing.)

If you notice toward the end of the video you can see what appears to be a small bong on the coffee table.  The Columbia, Missouri SWAT team sure took down a big-time drug kingpin while he slept peacefully with his wife and seven-year-old child, huh?

(Columbia Daily-Tribune) Police discovered a grinder, a pipe and a small amount of marijuana, Haden said. Because the SWAT team acts on the most updated information available, the team wanted to enter the house before marijuana believed to be at the location could be distributed, she said.

“If you let too much time go by, then the drugs are not there,” she said.

Drug distributors traditionally have a history with firearms, which is why the SWAT team is used when executing such warrants, [police spokeswoman Officer Jessie] Haden said. If the SWAT team believed they could have executed the warrant successfully during the daytime when the wife and child were not present, they would have, she said.

Well, the “drugs” weren’t there, now, were they?  But let’s pretend they were.  Let’s say the man was holding enough marijuana to qualify for a felony charge in Missouri (over 35 grams).  Are we to understand that holding any more than an ounce and a quarter in Missouri is justification enough to send SWAT to burst into a man’s home late at night and start firing weapons and slaughtering his pets and terrorizing his wife and children?

And what exactly is it that made the SWAT team believe it couldn’t execute a successful warrant in the daytime?  The presence of his pit bull and corgi (yes, these cops shot a corgi) or that his wife and child would be away so he wouldn’t mind going down guns blazing to protect his lucrative marijuana empire?  And if he had enough pot to have a lucrative marijuana empire worth shooting cops over, how exactly did he manage to get rid of it all in the few hours between daytime and that night?

No, folks, the justification is simple: shock and awe.  These cops are taught that “druggies” are dangerous armed hostile mentally deranged lunatics who all emulate Tony Montana from Scarface.  Then they are taught how to dominate and intimidate and that one of the quickest ways you can do so is to show them you have the power of life and death.  And they do this as a message to all the other “druggies” out there that they are not safe and that they are serious about engaging the “enemy” and winning the “war”.

Radley Balko at Reason’s Hit and Run (a top libertarian blog) has been following the story and promises an update from the victim’s mother, who was present at the raid.  Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake (a top progressive blog which has recently begun a new campaign for legalization), Scott Morgan at Drug War Chronicle, and Pete Guither at DrugWarRant have also been following the story.

In the end the victim pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia in exchange for dropping the charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession and second-degree child endangerment.  Yes, you read that right: the police burst into this man’s home, shooting weapons in his home and killing his dog with his seven-year-old sleeping in the next room and he’s the one who was endangering his child by smoking pot in his own home.

P.S. You’d think the ASPCA or PETA would be all over this, wouldn’t you?  I did, but found no reference to any police-shooting-dog stories on either of their websites.  I once got in contact with people in their organizations but got no interest from them on addressing these clear cases of cruel and unethical treatment of animals.  I even tried contacting Bill Maher, a high-profile PETA supporter and marijuana legalization supporter to spotlight the topic, but I’ve never received any response.  None of these animal rights supporters seem to think a family pet has a right to be protected from police brutality if the owner is thought to be a “druggie”.

P.P.S. Paul Armentano reminds me that in 2004, seven in ten Columbia, Missouri residents voted for the end of the “arrest, prosecution, punishment, or sanction” citizens for their medical use of marijuana, and six in ten voted for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use.  So the dog was murdered and the family terrorized over something only 30%-40% of residents believe is a crime.

381 thoughts

  1. Ok so, I don’t know the asshole that shot the dogs. Maybe we should get his name and see if he owns a pet. If he does, we should pet nap it. And then leave a fake trail of blood in his home. With a note stating that he should have been more careful with his weapon.

  2. Some of you people really make me laugh! You think ANYTHING will happen to these cops? There is no justice for citizens anymore! Forget about it and just go back to your bongs people. No one really cares, and if this case ever sees the inside of a courtroom, all participants in this raid will be exonerated! HA HA HA!!! Funniest part about it is that IT IS HAPPENING TO SOMEONE ELSE RIGHT NOW! Do you think these raids (or this outcome) are unusual? At least one “family member” is KILLED IN THE NAME OF THE “WAR ON DRUGS” EVERY WEEK!!! The only reason you don’t hear about it is that they are that good at seeing to it that you don’t!!!

    Until you lazy-assed stoners collectively grow a pair and start protesting in the streets by the THOUSANDS, we are going to keep re-living this horrible miscarriage of justice!

    Arizona passes a law that might actually make us safer, and MILLIONS of illegals come out of the wood-work to protest it’s “possible” mis-application. An 88 year old grandmother gets shot over a botched drug raid (based on a bs tip from some scumbag who couldn’t take responsibility for their own use)and none of you do shit! And you wonder why they are still killing legal AMERICAN citizens while issuing “no-knock” search warrants in the middle of the night!

    And in case you have any doubt as to whether or not anything will happen to these cops check this out:


    I’d kiss your ass if you can find where more than 5% of the cases in this study resulted in the termination, unpaid suspension, or incarceration of ANY cops involved! Proof positive that we aren’t doing enough to make them stop!!!


  3. OZ, I couldn’t agree more you’d think there’d be tens of thousands of comments, What the hell is going in our fellow Americans head’s when our civil rights have been taken and no one say’s shit, I know tons of people who hate the war on drugs but won’t admit it on something like Facebook or Myspace much less sign a potation because they are afraid of what people might think and/or losing their job!!?? In a free country were we have freedom of speech, people are afraid of speaking up for something like FREEDOM!! I mean shit we are supposed to be a free country; that’s a joke! But if we all got off our asses fought for it, The only way we can by protesting, writing congress, an educating everyone we talk to and work together to vote for people that stand for TRUE LIBERTY!! That’s what this is about freedom!

  4. Kinloch Court Search Warrant Update

    Columbia Police officers served a search warrant at 1501 Kinloch Court, in Columbia, at 8:27 p.m., on February 11, 2010. The search warrant entry team consisted of eight SWAT members and the perimeter team consisted of three officers, one of whom is a SWAT member.

    Upon entry, the officers immediately encountered two dogs. During the search warrant, one of the dogs was shot and killed. This dog was a breed commonly referred to as a “pit bull”.

    The defendant, Jonathon Whitworth, was arrested.

    The police department has received numerous inquiries from citizens who have received misinformation. While the investigation is still ongoing, the department recognizes the need to provide information prior to its conclusion to clarify some specific questions, many of which are based on misinformation.

    * The pit-bull type breed dog was not confined; it was not in a cage and it was not behind a gate.
    * The other dog, described as a Corgi, was not killed. This dog is believed to have been struck once.
    * The defendant’s wife and child were at the residence. However, neither was in the presence of the officers or dogs when the dogs were shot.
    * The officers did not force entry into the home. The door was unlocked and an officer opened it.
    * The search warrant was not served for a misdemeanor amount of marijuana. The Columbia Police Department does not pursue search warrants for misdemeanor amounts of marijuana. The search warrant was for Marijuana, A Schedule I Controlled Substance and the evidence of the crime of drug trafficking. A copy of the affidavit is attached.
    * A diversionary device or “flash bang” was not deployed during this incident

    Police Chief Ken Burton requested the Internal Affairs Unit conduct an investigation into the uses of force involved in the incident. A total of seven shots were fired.

    The investigative review also examines training practices, and the department’s current practices in general with regard to the service of search warrants. Since that time, the department has received inquiries from individuals expressing a desire to know if an investigation is being completed.

    Upon being briefed about the incident Chief Burton concluded that this search warrant should not have been served in the delayed fashion that it was, but rather should have been disregarded when the department was not able to serve it within a reasonable time. He has made members of his department aware that policy changes with regard to search warrant service are underway. In the interim, he will personally be responsible for approving search warrants in which forced entry may be required.

    When the internal investigation is complete, a news release will be issued with its results.

    Many phone calls and e-mails are being received by the members of the police department, as well as other City departments, regarding this incident. The department is doing its best to reply with a statement to the inquiries that contain a legitimate e-mail address or phone numbers, and which include questions that we can answer at this time.

    Chief Burton has proposed changes to the department’s Narcotic Search Warrant Service Protocol. View those changes here.

    View a copy of the search warrant affidavit here.

  5. why was there any shots fired? holding marijuana is a non violent crime. Once again they’re just little men hiding behind a badge.

  6. I say everyone needs to forward that tape to the Obama administratoin, state and local “so called” leaders and need to be told this will not be tolerated. I bet if we made Obama’s two kids sit down, watch the tape and have to hear the poor dog whining, and miss a couple nights sleep from nightmares, the policies would be changes over night

  7. U.S. Patent No. 6630507, “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants ” demonstrates currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and shows no lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

    Also, according to the Ontario Court of Justice, Canada’s laws against marijuana were found to remain unconstitutional since Parker, in R. v. Long.

    Under what law are cannabis and cannabinoids _legally_ prohibited in the United States or Canada?

    [Paul Armentano responds: The U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970.]

  8. Respectfully, U.S. Patent No. 6630507, “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” demonstrates currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and no lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

    Schedule III Marinol is a synthetic chemical that works like THC, a psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. At 100 percent strength, Marinol is 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.

  9. wow, if this doesn’t make you mad…i’m not sure what will. Revolt against the police department, call, send emails, letters, stand in front of their offices with signs stating DOG KILLERS WORK HERE!!!!!! Please do not let this go unnoticed by the citizens all around the world.
    One thing is for sure, police are insane, egotistical individuals. This is why most get into the police business b/c of the power they never had as a kid or teenager.
    Chief Burton, you’re a dick and all of your officers are cowards just like yourself. Can you guys not find a meth lab to bust? They are everywhere in Missouri. You piece of fucking shit, I can’t wait until Karma comes back to get your fucking ass. Miserable fucking asshole Chief Burton, you cocksucker. Fuck you and your police force. You’re a sorry person and I hope everyone finds out about your police tactics that YOU are in favor of.

  10. So, how may Schedule I legally include cannabis or raw cannabinoids in the list of drugs with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision”?

  11. To the MO Swat Team, Several decades ago, I smoked part of a joint and I was so scared that I wanted to call police and ask them to come and get me! I have smoked cigarettes for almost 50 years and now my days are numbered because I bought the lie from the Cigarette Manufactures back in the 1950’s where TV commericals were ran stating that certain Doctor’s recommend certain brands of cigarettes as being Good For You! The United States Criminal Government Allowed those commericals because they were making Big Bucks off cigarette smokers. And smoking was my choice as any personal choice should be left up to the people!! The water we drink is making us sick, the GMO foods we eat are making us sick, the Government Chemtrailed air we breathe is making us sick, the Vaccines we take are making us sick and the Governments Agenda “Population Reduction”, this is a FACT! I have never saw a person who smokes Marijuana become violent in fact many people who are terminally ill find releaf from their pain by smoking Marijuana. Listen, I am no fool, I know how this Government system works. I have relatives who are in Afghanistan fighting for our Freedom by “Guarding Poppy Fields”, risking their lives not for our Freedom, but for the Rich so they can get Richer!!!!!!!!!!! The only reason Marijuana is not legalized is so the Rich can get Richer and the states can arrest the smokers or sellers and more money can be made and more power for those Mentally Ill Power Seekers who feel important only when they have power over other humans! Listen, The People’s Republic Is Sick of the Power Rapers, the Freedom Takers, we are sick of those who play GOD! The MO Swat Team needs to get their money together and buy this family dogs to replace the ones they murdered, NOW!! We all know that NO charges will be brought against you because “LEGAL VODOO” and criminal attorney’s will tie up all ends so you look like “Savors of the People”, this is Slavery!!! Help us, don’t keep supporting Slavery because if you do, one day Slavery will find its way to your door!

  12. The Columbia, Missouri SWAT team and the city attorney’s office deserves articulate, well reasoned FEEDBACK on how this incident was handled.

    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


    – – –

  13. Contacted PETA about this… This was the response I got:

    Thank you for contacting PETA.

    We share your concern about the circumstances under which these dogs were shot. We understand that the responsible agency is conducting a thorough internal review of the incident, and we sincerely hope that this review will lead to policy changes that will ensure that it is never repeated.

    These tragedies happen more often than one would imagine. It seems we’re inundated with calls every week from people whose dogs were shot by law-enforcement personnel. Officers appropriately resort to deadly force when they believe that their lives, or the lives of others, are in danger. But sometimes officials draw their guns unnecessarily or too quickly. Regardless, it’s important that all officials whose work brings them in contact with animals be trained to deal with animal situations effectively and humanely. We often recommend that agencies take advantage of the National Animal Control Association’s training programs (http://www.nacanet.org) for that reason.

    If, after reviewing state law (http://www.animallaw.com) and local law (http://www.municode.com), it is believed that a government agency wrongfully injured or killed a companion animal, the shooter could face prosecution, and the animal’s guardians may be able to sue.

    It is important for any companion-animal guardian to be familiar with the laws that afford their loved ones protection from every kind of abuse. For more information at your fingertips, you may wish to read Dog Law: A Legal Guide for Dog Owners and Their Neighbors, by Mary Randolph (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0873376161/qid=1087923942/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-0251647-8403076?v=glance&s=books).

    Thank you again for writing and for your concern for animals.

    Megan Vasiles
    Correspondence Assistant
    The PETA Foundation

  14. There’s a special place in hell for those who would mistret an animal. Now! apply that to these lower than life MF’s.

  15. Tom Dresner is answering questions here

    Tom_Dresner says…

    “Is it true the neighbors were told on the night of the incident that the police were conducting a training exercise and that no shots were fired?”

    Yes it is true.

    It was wrong.

    The officer should have never said that, and we are investigating why he did, as part of the overall investigation. We deeply regret that the public was misled in this way.

    May 11, 2010 at 3:04 p.m

  16. Why I am I not surprised about this? Let me tell you a true story about Columbia Mo police. About 8 years ago I date a girl who went to Mizzou. one night, one block over from were she lived, one male college student was found slain to death by a knife outside of his apt. By investigation by internal affairs, it was discovered the boy and married local policeman were have an homosexual affair. After the cop broke it off with the affairs, the boy threatened to tell his wife and family about their homosexual affairs. In retaliation, the boy was murdered. A sick and sad story but true! Those cops down there think they can do what they want done there. Columbia is a very nice college town but those cop down there need to take a step back

  17. I say everyone willing, drive to the Columbia jail and courthouse and express our second amendment rights also. Let them know what it’s like to be on the other side of the barrel. I just don’t understand how anyone could view this as right and support Gustapo style tactics in America over vegetative material. If cops are here to enforce laws, why don’t they choose to go out and ticket people parking in handicap spots that aren’t supposed to, or go around and make sure buildings are up to code, or hell spend time solving real crimes? Oh, yea that’s right, they won’t be able to put on the Weekend Warrior gear and get their jollies out of suppressing people. I am a big gun supporter and have knowledge of the different firearms and ammunition, and it makes no sense shooting off a gun whose round can easily go through walls and even houses. So not only are you gunning for the scary pot smoker, but you’re gunna take out the neighbors to? This is called overkill, literally.

  18. O.K.! Here it is…one more time…It’s always been about the money…it’s all about money now…and…it will always be about money. Is not money [love of it]
    the root of all evil. What! am I deceiving myself?

  19. Everyone notice what *wasn’t* found?


    So a “kingpin” that leaves his door unlocked, has no weapon, and no scales?!?

    bwwwhahahhwhwhwahahahaa. morons.

  20. Those pigs have boners for stoners. Right now I am telling you that man pissed someone off. He wouldn’t get them any so they ratted on his ass. They killed an ankle biter??? What a bunch of pussies. The cop that shot the dog should not be allowed to carry a gun.

  21. and this is why cops get shot!!! “makes me wanna shoot a cop in his mthr fn face!” excerpt from ice t “COP KILLER

    im am locked and loaded, i had cops come to my house cause of noise disturbance, guess what i seen as i opened the door…..yep cop with gun drawn, (and no I have no violent record, or any felony record at all) I have a concealed pistol permit (legal in sd). these f ers know when you come to my house you better be ready, cause I am.


  22. i hate the swat team i hope they all die in a bombing raid those motherfuckers and this is comming from a NAM vet

  23. Who the hell do these cops think they are.It seems to me that these cops aren’t inrerested in serving or protecting,but are simply on a power trip with a gun in their hands.Perhaps the reason they became cops in the first place is simply because they were losers their entire lives and are desperatley seeking brotherhood with fellow losers.If you want to catch some real criminals,why don’t you start at the state capital building.

  24. The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!
    Frederic Bastiat
    The cops claim to serve and protect but who do they serve and protect? They serve and protect corporations that call themselves government! The states, counties and cities are all corporations for profit! They are pirates on the high seas operating in Admiralty! Someday they will get the same treatment they dish out.

  25. god will deal with the officers or swat bullies who shot the families dogs,god will deal with them in his own way!
    i have a strong belief in god,it says in the bible an eye for an eye.

  26. A search warrant would not be issued just for having a small amount of pot. In order to get a warrant, detectives would have had to purchase narcotics inside the home (probably at least twice). So the guy deals weed in addition to smoking it. Shame on him for putting his family in the middle of that. Who cares if you agree with that law, it is the law. So guess what happens when you break it? You’re all right, it’s too bad they shot the innocent dog instead of him. He’s a whiny crying punk.

  27. Objection, assumes facts not in evidence.

    Also, the law in question falsely claims marijuana has no accepted safe medical use in the United States.

    Millions of otherwise law abiding citizens have been arrested since April 21, 1999, when the US government filed dozens of safe, proven medical uses in application for 2003 Patent No. 6630507.

    see: http://tinyurl.com/classactionlawsuit

    and: http://supersoberme.com

    Got due process? How about reparations?

    The law is the law . . . right?

  28. It makes me so sad to see how police turn to killing and military tactics of everyday American people just to get their kicks.People we think should protect society and it’s people have become the enemy of the people.I had just had open heart surgery and cancer surgery,my sick 60+ year old wife with COPD in Maryland was harassed by state police because another neighbor told them(police) I told rabbits and deer to make paths in the woods(neighbors angry because we would not sell them our home),police came to our home 3 times with K-9 dogs and police car back up late at night,no evidence,no charges.Being a combat veteran,fought for this country in combat.I thought police were there to protect people not do their friends dirty work for them.Are we any different then Russia and China when it comes to Civil Rights ! NO ! Just like this story,POLICE ARE OUT OF CONTROL IN AMERICA !

  29. This shows how much you cant trust law enforcement. And why would they shoot the dogs with a child present?
    Thats the stupidest thing ever I mean are they trying to tramautize the kid?
    And all that for some drugs its not like they killed a man.
    They didnt need to shoot those dogs there are so many other ways to handle the situation they should be sued for every penny there worth.
    But then again what are they worth? Not much

  30. i wanna know why my local missouri goverment judges,prossecuter,and so on are neck deep in narcotics every one knows but noone to tell i know a few have called the feds and got a bussiness man in trouble for it but it took them hounding for months i live in the sticks anyone kicks in my door i start shootin ill ask questions later cop or not if you kick in my door its on

  31. The pigs think they are god. I would like to see the real and vengeful GOD step in and kick the cop’s asses. I am not religious, but it just strikes me how demonic these cops are. Demonic would be a perversion of everything that is good and wholesome. Good and wholesome, like using a plant that is natural, and modern research shows is not harmless, but actual BENEFICIAL!! People: STOP ARGUING THAT POT SHOULD BE LEGAL FOR REASONS OF FREEDOM ETC… IT IS MUCH MORE THAN THAT. OUR BODIES NATURALLY MAKE AND USE CANNABINOIDS. CANNABINOIDS = HEALTH AND WELL BEING! It is about freedom from tyranny, AND about freedome to HEAL ourselves from glutamate excitotoxicity (leading to ADHD, depressions, bipolar disorder, etc), cancer, and all sorts of other ailments.

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