The Birmingham Police Department already had major problems on its hands, thanks to a videotaped beating officers recently administered to an unconscious human suspect. Now, it appears that officers have opened fire on three dogs for, well, pretty much being dogs.
We already know that local police officers can rough up human beings:
Now it looks like they don't treat animals any better.
The latest incident began early Sunday morning on Birmingham's Southside when officers responded to a call about stray dogs. The dogs' owners, Leisa Bunn and Rusty Crawford, had just gotten home after closing their nearby pizza restaurant. Crawford was walking the dogs, without a leash, in an area behind their apartment building when officers appeared.
Bunn and Crawford say the officers drew their weapons and started firing without speaking first to Crawford. A police department spokesman said officers became alarmed when the dogs charged them, and they asked Crawford to take control of the dogs.
Officers apparently fired about six shots. One dog was shot in the leg and may have to have an amputation. Another dog was shot but not seriously injured. The third dog was unharmed.
Crawford and Bunn became angry after the shooting and wound up being arrested for disorderly conduct.
Our investigators, of course, are primarily concerned about the dogs' well being. But taking the canine component out of the equation, the officers' behavior still appears to be egregious. Birmingham's Southside is a densely populated area, with people out and about at all hours. The officers' actions clearly were harmful to four-legged creatures, but they could have been deadly for two-legged types, as well.
Tommy Spina, attorney for Crawford and Bunn, said evidence indicated the dogs were running away from the officers when they were shot. Spina said the case is another example of overly aggressive behavior by Birmingham police officers:
"In light of recent behaviors by the Birmingham Police Department as reported on the national news, I find this aggressive behavior under those circumstances to be unacceptable and intolerable," Spina wrote in a letter delivered to Police Chief A.C. Roper and Mayor Larry Langford on Monday.