Adams Morgan Day is a festival held in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC which is best known for lots of bars, lots of drunks, and vomit and trash all over the place. Shockingly, though, if you ever walk through on a weekend morning, it’s quite lovely. However, it is one of those neighborhoods I do my best to avoid (especially on certain weeknights and weekends) because of the high volume of people, and of drunk people, and of loud drunk people. In any case, as I had to work, I skipped Adams Morgan Day. 18th Street was closed for several blocks, and a little after 1pm, MPD officers shot a dog.
Exactly what happened isn’t known. There are lot of different accounts. You should read them:
The Washington Post: Police fatally shoot dog at Adams Morgan festival.
DCist: Police Shooting at Adams Morgan Day, Dog Killed
DCist: Spokesperson – “Policeman Knocked” Owner Off Dog Before Detaining, Shooting It
TBD.com: Cop shoots, kills dog during Adams Morgan festival
City Paper: Why Did Police Shoot A Dog in Adams Morgan?
All of them seem to share this:
-Aaron Block, either the dog’s owner or his caretaker, was walking Parrot, either a pit bull or a mixed-breed Shar-Pei.
-Parrot bit a poodle. (Or a poodle bit Parrot).
-Depending on what happened, the bitten dog — rightly — bit back.
-Block and the poodle’s owner struggled to separate the dogs.
-Having been separated, Block either did or did not have Parrot under control.
-MPD Officer Scott Fike got on top of Parrot to restrain the dog.
-Fike threw the dog into the staircase, and at some point shortly thereafter, shot it.
In addition to the quotes from witnesses on the scene in the papers, other people in the comment section of those areas have provided more feedback on what happened. While realizing that no source is impartial, and that ten people can watch the same thing happen and see ten different things, this struck me as authentic:
Almost Retired: The pit bull’s face was badly injured. Three people were holding it down. Several police came by. One officer in particular subdued the dog, although he was nervious about it. He asked other police officers to get people further back because he was having trouble controlling the dog. He was holding the dog’s face against the concrete and choking it. Another officer had his hand on his gun, and I knew what they were planning. At that point, my attention transferred to the dog’s care taker to see if he needed assistance as his hand was badly bitten – I don’t know from which dog. I then heard the shot (about 5 feet away from me). The care taker was shacking. I put my hand on his back and asked if the dog was his and if he needed assistance. He help protesting that he wasn’t the owner – that it was a “foster dog.” I felt that part of the reason the dog was shot was because no one would claim ownership.
Basically, what this boils down to is: did the police have reason to fear for the safety of the crowd?
Dogs can’t be reasoned with. They can’t be handcuffed. There are very few methods, that I am aware of, to subdue a dangerous animal other than lethal force.
Here’s how I look at it: what is more likely? Is it more likely that a trigger-happy cop (who happens to work with a K-9 unit) decided he wanted to shoot something, and Parrot provided him an excuse?
Or that an officer felt the owner couldn’t control the dog, and that, fearing for the safety of himself and others, he used lethal force before the dog could bite someone?
I have been bitten by dogs a couple of times. One instance in particular stands out in my mind. This was probably seven or eight years ago. I had parked at the Howard County library in Columbia to pick up some tax forms on my way to my parents’ house for dinner, and a black gentleman was walking a big black dog. I reached down to scratch its head, and it bit me. The dog didn’t break the skin, and the owner was extremely apologetic, but what I remember still is what he said: “This dog has never, ever, bitten anyone before!” (And, yes, I was at fault: I failed to ask if it was okay to pet the animal, and I may have startled it).
But I just keep going back to the statement by a spokesperson (either for Block, or Lucky Dog Animal Rescue): “He has never bitten another dog”. Yeah, until Sunday.