Maryland Woman Sues Police Department Who Shot Her Family’s Pit Bill

An Edgewater woman is suing her county police department for more than $3 million after an Anne Arundel County police officer allegedly overreacted and killed her family’s beloved pit bull.

Deborah Ransom says that she and her teenaged daughter have “experienced fright, terror, panic, (and) sleeplessness” and sought counseling because of the traumatic event.

According to Ransom, on November 27, 2006, her 60-pound pet “enthusiastically and gently” pulled at Officer Adam Hinton’s sleeve. The cop then pulled out his gun and “maliciously” killed the pit bull, named Chopper, in the back. She and her daughter, Tiffany Hancock, were just five feet away.

A police department spokesman had previously justified the shooting, saying that the officer had been bitten on the leg and arm and was afraid he would be attacked again if he didn’t shoot the dog.

This is the third biting incident involving Chopper, who nipped at the sons of a neighbor in 2004 and bit a man in April 2006. The pit bull had been quarantined for 10 days after the second attack but was released into Ms. Ransom’s care on the condition that she adhere to certain restrictions, including neutering Chopper and placing him on a 4-foot leash and muzzling him anytime he left the house. He also had to be placed in a locked room or a kennel whenever there were visitors at Ransom’s house.

The personal injury lawsuit names Officer Hinton and Anne Arundel county officials as defendants. The lawsuit accuses Hinton of police misconduct, excessive force, and reckless behavior in the shooting of the dog and that he “intentionally caused or attempted to cause serious physical injury” to Ms. Ransom and Ms. Hancock. The county is also accused of unlawfully seizing Chopper, considered to be Ms. Ransom’s personal property.

Officer Hinton, who was treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center, sustained bruising and redness and was back at work the same day.

Animal Control had taken the body so that it could conduct a rabies test. Ms. Ransom wanted the body back so she could get an autopsy to determine what direction the bullet came from when it struck her pet. Chopper’s body was never returned to her.

Contributory Negligence

Maryland and D.C. are two of the five U.S. jurisdictions that use contributory negligence rather than comparative negligence in personal injury claims. This means that if both the defendant and accident victim are determined to have contributed to a loss, both parties can be held at fault, which can lower the damages that an injury victim might be entitled to.

This standard can make it more difficult for injury victims to receive proper justice under personal injury law in Maryland, which is why it is so important to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney who can fight for your rights and help you achieve the best outcome possible in your case.

Family sues police over dog’s shooting, Hometown Annapolis, August 13, 2007

Related Web Resource:

Police Brutality, Human Rights Watch

Lebowitz and Mzhen represents personal injury clients throughout Maryland and Washington D.C. Jack Lebowitz and Vadim Mzhen are personal injury lawyers who are known for their ability to secure the best outcome possible for their injury clients. Contact Lebowitz and Mzhen today and ask for your free consultation.

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