Victoria LaQuier was in her aunt’s basement when Minneapolis police kicked open the front door Tuesday morning and fired three shots in quick succession.
When police escorted her upstairs what she saw shocked her: one of the family’s dogs was dead, slumped on the floor as blood pooled around him. A second family dog tracked bloody paw prints up the nearby stairs.
Minneapolis police were executing an arrest warrant at the home in the 1600 block of Bush Avenue in St. Paul when they killed Blu and badly wounded Conan, two male pit bull terriers, about 11 a.m.
“Pets aren’t disposable things,” LaQuier said Wednesday. “Somebody loves them.”
Minneapolis police declined to confirm the incident, and refused to answer questions about what happened and why their officers apparently fired on the dogs. St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said his agency only provided Minneapolis police with traffic assistance outside and was not involved in executing the warrant.
Limited public data from Minneapolis police’s daily incident log showed that they were at the St. Paul address to execute an arrest warrant on a possession of a firearm without a permit case. LaQuier confirmed that the warrant was for her boyfriend, but said she did not know the details of the case. He was arrested later.
Bloody paw prints left behind when Conan was taken out by St. Paul’s animal control were still visible on the family’s front stoop on the Greater East Side. Inside, two fresh bullet holes marred the living room floor.
“It’s just a lot of unnecessary brutality … and it’s not being accounted for,” said LaQuier’s aunt, Jennifer Hankerson.
An emotional Hankerson said the use-of-force was excessive and unwarranted, especially since the family had signs posted in the front window and on a nearby fence warning visitors about the dogs.
Hankerson’s 13-year-old son was also home at the time. Although he didn’t witness the shooting, Hankerson said, he sat on the living room couch in full view of Blu’s body as police flipped over mattresses searching for LaQuier’s boyfriend. LaQuier said police ziptied her hands together and made her lie on the living room floor. No one else was home.
LaQuier said animal control removed a bloody and wounded Conan and carried Blu out in a bag dripping with blood in front of her cousin.
Conan, 3, who is the father of 1-year-old Blu, was apparently shot once in the head, suffering a shattered eye socket, a shattered rear leg, fluid in the lungs and internal bleeding, Hankerson said.
Conan ran upstairs after he was shot and cowered under Hankerson’s king-size bed, where the family’s dogs all slept at night. Hankerson showed photos of a 2-foot diameter spot where Conan’s blood stained the carpeting.
It’s unclear how many times Blu was shot. Hankerson said Wednesday afternoon that Blu’s remains were still in the possession of animal control, and would cost her $200 to $250 to claim.
Hankerson and LaQuier said that although Conan is a tall dog weighing 80 to 100 pounds, he is the “biggest ham” and a “big baby.” They said Blu had a comically bad underbite, liked to steal socks and was the “testier” of the two.
They said the dogs were comfortable with visitors in the house, because Hankerson and her husband have a combined 12 children ranging in age from 13 to 36 and often receive guests. But, they said, they weren’t surprised that at least one of the dogs barked when police knocked loudly on the front door and kicked it in.
“Any dog is going to react when they’re scared,” Hankerson said.
Hankerson and her husband paid about $500 Wednesday to reclaim a litter of 9 puppies and three other pit bull terriers that were taken from the home Tuesday by the city.
Hankerson expected to pay about $2,000 to cover Conan’s vet bills and to claim him from the city, and said he would have additional ongoing medical costs as he recovers.
Hankerson vowed to find a way to cover the expenses even if she has to pawn family belongings, and has set up a fundraising page at https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-conan. She said Minneapolis police killed two of her other pit bulls in 2015 when they raided her home in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood looking for the previous residents who had just moved out. Minneapolis police refused to comment Wednesday about the 2015 allegation.
Minneapolis police came under fire in 2017 when officer Michael Mays shot and seriously wounded two dogs in north Minneapolis. As a result, police recruits were trained not to shoot dogs unless someone’s life was in danger.
“There’s just no reason for lethal force,” Hankerson said. “They’ve got to find a way to handle situations with dogs better.”
Staff writer LIbor Jany contributed to this report.