Pubdate: Sat, 18 Jul 2015
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The Toronto Star
Authors: Diana Hall & Louie Rosella
Page: GT6


Frightened Girl Found the Pet After Three Shots Were Fired

One gunshot left Rocco lying in the front foyer, steps from the front 
door at his home in Brampton. Then came the sound of two more shots, 
according to Mekayla Loots, 10, who was sitting on the couch watching 
the Family Channel when police officers came through her front door 
on June 30, shouting.

Racing into the hallway, the frightened girl found her family's 
two-year-old German shepherd dead on the floor, the victim of Peel 
Regional Police bullets.

"I was crying and I said, 'Why did you guys kill my dog?' "

Two weeks after that event, Peel police have acknowledged officers 
killed the dog while executing a search warrant at the Cannon Cres. 
home last month.

The search led to the arrest of Ryan Loots-Scott, 20, Mekayla's 
brother, who faces a series of drugs and weapons charges.

Police seized a revolver and a quantity of drugs at the home, 
according to a news release issued at the time, which did not 
initially indicate that police weapons were fired there.

Staff. Sgt. Dan Richardson, who told the Brampton Guardian that 
officers were responsible for Rocco's death, didn't explain why the 
dog was shot, noting that the case is "before the courts."

But he explained why officers might take such action.

"Judicially-authorized entries to locate and seize firearms present 
significant dangers to the police. Upon entry, when police encounter 
a dog, the behaviour and threat level of the dog are evaluated. In 
some circumstances it will require officers to neutralize the threat 
in order to continue with the execution of the search warrant in a 
manner that is considered to be as safe as possible for the occupants 
and the police. Officers have to deal with the situation where they 
encounter it," Richardson said. According to Canadian human rights 
lawyer Peter Zaduk, who has represented many clients whose dogs were 
shot and killed during an arrest, the fact that shots were fired 
shouldn't be kept from the public.

He said police must re-evaluate how they conduct these searches, as 
officers "seem not to take any chances at all" and, often, "they 
provoke dogs into protective stances and essentially cause them to be shot."

The ordeal has left the Loots family "devastated," angry and looking 
for answers, according to Jennifer Loots, Mekayla's mother.

It was a needless death, she argued, taking issue with the level of 
force her daughter said was used against Rocco.

Loots said she plans on filing a complaint.

"They shot him once and he was on the ground. Why did they have to 
shoot him two more times? I don't understand," Loots said.

Kyle Loots, Mekayla's older brother, was playing basketball in front 
of his neighbour's house when he said police came out of nowhere and 
swarmed his home.

"I warned them before they came up to the door that there's a dog in 
the house - twice," Kyle said. "But they told me to shut the f--- up. 
They wouldn't let me speak."

While lying on the ground with his hands behind his back, Kyle said, 
he heard three gunshots, but he didn't hear Rocco barking as he 
usually did when people came to the door.

Loots said Rocco was a member of the family. "He wasn't just a dog. 
He was like a little person to us," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom