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$22,500 Settlement in Excessive Force for Killing Dog

by David M. Reutter

New Mexico's Albuquerque Police Department paid $22,500 to settle a lawsuit alleging officers acted illegally in shooting a citizen's dog.

Officers responded to a 911 call on October 19, 2009, from a woman who refused to give her address and said she no longer needed assistance. James Sampson was sitting at a table with Kenneth Newton in Newton's backyard. With them was Newton's dog Chocolate.

Sampson and Newton saw lits coming down the driveway, and Chocolate jumped off his chair and headed that way to investigate. Before Sampson and Newton could stand and walk more than a few steps, bullets were flying. ''Without warning and without announcing that they were police officers . . . , [the officers] opened fire on Chocolate killing him only a few feet in front of Mr. Newton a d Mr. Sampson,'' the complaint alleged. The officers fired seven times, hitting Chocolate, who was not charging or attacking the officers, four times.

The officers immediately ordered Newton and Sampson to ''get down and put their hands behind their back.'' Newton was placed on a street curb as he watched Chocolate die, and Sampson was placed in the back of a patrol car. They remained there for the next hour as the officers took pictures. Once done, Newton and Sampson were released, and the officers left without explanation.

Newton and Sampson sued, alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment and state court claim for the use of excessive force. They were represented by Albuquerque attorney Frances Carpenter. Newton settled the matter for $22,500. See: Newton v. Albuquerque Police Officers, USDC, D. New Mexico, Case no. Civ 10-319.

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Related legal case

Newton v. Albuquerque Police Officers



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