A family whose dogs were shot by police two years ago is suing the city of Minneapolis and its police department, alleging the officers permanently wounded the family’s service dogs and then tried to cover it up with a false report.
The story of the shooting went viral in July 2017 after Jennifer LeMay posted home surveillance video to Facebook showing Minneapolis police officer Michael Mays inside the privacy fence of her backyard. One of her dogs, Ciroc, is first seen trotting up to the officer wagging its tail. Mays shoots Ciroc in the face. A second dog, Rocko, scurries toward Mays. He shoots the dog.
Mays and his partner, Daniel Ledman, were responding to a burglary report that night after someone at LeMay’s home accidentally tripped the alarm. In police reports, Mays wrote that “two large size pit bulls charged at” him.
LeMay’s attorney Mike Padden called that characterization a “baldfaced lie.”
According to the lawsuit filed Friday, Ciroc and Rocko — both American Staffordshire Terriers — were five years old at the time of the shooting, registered with the city and up to date on vaccinations. Both animals acted as psychiatric or seizure-alerting support dogs.
The burglar alarm went off at 8:42 p.m. Twelve minutes later, LeMay called Xfinity to report the error.
Mays and Ledman arrived at the house about 9:15. Ledman went to the front door and Mays jumped the fence into the backyard. Mays fired four bullets at the dogs, hitting Ciroc in the face and Rocko in the shoulder, while one of LeMay’s children watched from an upstairs window.
Then police refused to pay any part of the nearly $6,000 veterinary bill, according to the lawsuit.
The suit alleges the officers acted irrationally and Mays had no reason to see the dogs as an imminent threat. “The perception that a single dog presents a life-threatening danger to a healthy adult male who is wearing a thick uniform and bullet-proof vest is objectively unreasonable,” it states.
The officers unlawfully entered the property, the suit continues, and inflicted severe emotional damage on the family, resulting in one of LeMay’s children spending seven months in therapy. The gunshots also permanently altered the dogs, rendering them unable to serve as support animals, according to the suit. They are now family pets.
Padden said the family decided to sue after negotiations with the city failed, calling the city’s settlement offer a “joke.”
City Attorney Susan Segal had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
The family also names Xfinity in the suit, saying it failed to notify police that the alarm was tripped accidentally.