Owner files suit after officer shoots pet

Still image from the YouTube video

The police officer who shot and killed a LaGrange man's dog is now at the center of a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed Thursday by Marcus Mays stems from a March 31, 2010 incident that made national news when the video showing officer Doug Howell shooting the American Bulldog surfaced on YouTube.

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The complaint filed in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis says Howell shot the dog while it was secured with a noose around its neck. Howell shot the dog in the chest and fired a second round in the dog's head as its tail continued to wag, the lawsuit says.

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to read a copy of the lawsuit for Case No. 2:12-CV-6.

May is seeking unspecified damage and legal fees in the three count suit that alleges Howell violated his Fourth Amendment rights of seizure.

Officers were called to May's home after neighbor Mary Coleman complained that the dog was running loose in the neighborhood. The dog, named "Cammie," broke free from her chain, the lawsuit says.

"The dog was pretty much scared once the snare pole got out," May's attorney James Schottel Jr. of St. Louis said. "There are methods to subdue and detain a dog without pulling out your gun. I can understand that with a smaller town that police officers are going to assume an animal control role, but they should be trained on how to deal with this."

The lawsuit names both Howell and the City of LaGrange as defendants. The lawsuit also alleges that the city of LaGrange "failed to properly hire, train, supervise, control and/or discipline" Howell.

LaGrange city attorney Jeff Curl is out of the country this week and unavailable for comment, his assistant said.

Chief Dale McNeely of the LaGrange Police Department did not return phone calls seeking comment as of noon Monday.

Mays was fined $130 in June 2010 following the shooting incident for not registering his dog with the city of LaGrange and for failing to leash or muzzle a vicious dog.

In June 2011, Mays was charged on one count of a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the indictment, Mays was in possession of a 9-millimeter caliber pistol and ammunition. Court records show Mays entered a guilty plea on Sept. 15, 2011, and will be sentenced on Feb. 22 in Davenport, Iowa.