Pubdate: Fri, 19 Aug 2011
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2011 Sun-Times Media, LLC
Author: Stefano ESposito
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


Thomas Russell III describes watching a police officer shoot his 
canine "best friend" two years ago as "the scariest thing I ever saw."

On Thursday, a U.S. District Court jury decided Russell, 20, and his 
family deserved to be compensated for the Feb. 27, 2009, police 
search of the family's South Side home during which "Lady," the 
family's black Labrador, was shot dead. The jury awarded the family 
about $300,000.

"That was my best friend," said Russell, who was 18 at the time. "We 
did everything together. When I worked out, she'd be right there 
watching me. She'd sleep when I'd sleep."

The Russell family originally sued the city of Chicago in January 
2010, accusing police of excessive force, false arrest and inflicting 
intentional emotional harm -- among other claims -- during the 2009 
search of the family's apartment in the 9200 block of South Justine. 
Though police searched for drugs, they found none in the apartment, 
the family's lawyers say. Russell and his younger brother, Darren, 
were handcuffed during the incident, attorneys for the family said, 
and both boys had shotguns placed against their heads. At some point, 
Lady appeared and an officer shot her, the family's lawyers said. 
Lady was a sweet dog, and police had no reason to fear her, Russell said.

Jenny Hoyle, a city's Law Department spokeswoman, said they are 
"extremely disappointed" with the verdict. "The officers involved in 
this case were executing a valid search warrant when this incident 
occurred and were simply protecting themselves," Hoyle said. "We are 
extremely disappointed and reviewing all of our options. In 
particular, we think the damages awarded to the plaintiffs were excessive."
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