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Las Vegas SWAT team's search for suspect leads to civil suit

Most Las Vegas residents trust that their city’s law enforcement officers are properly trained to diffuse difficult situations and apprehend criminal suspects as peacefully as possible. However, sometimes undesirable outcomes can result from officers’ actions in the line of duty; when this happens, civil suits may be filed against law enforcement authorities. These legal matters are separate from the criminal issues from which they may have stemmed, and like any other civil suit may require a civil appeal in order to reach a final resolution.

In a case that began several years ago, law enforcement officers’ pursuit of a criminal suspect has led to a civil lawsuit against the North Las Vegas police department. SWAT officers were searching a home for an armed robbery suspect when they encountered and killed two dogs. The SWAT team claims the animals were acting aggressively.

The pending lawsuit is being brought by the suspect’s wife. She was the dogs’ owner, and asserts that her animals were behaving in a friendly manner just minutes before they were killed. A district court ruled that the case should be dismissed, but a recent appellate court decision overturned this dismissal. In its ruling, the appeals court questioned whether the SWAT team acted reasonably when they shot the dogs.

Civil matters can arise in a variety of circumstances, including criminal searches by law enforcement authorities. If such a dispute culminates in a lawsuit, civil appeals may be required to fully resolve the issue. Those who are facing legal issues that stemmed from the execution of a search warrant may want to speak with an attorney to discuss possible legal remedies.

Source: The Republic, “Court: Woman can sue after North Las Vegas police killed her 2 dogs while serving warrant,” Jan. 13, 2014

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