The City of Flint, Michigan, has agreed to pay Kristen Wells $35,000 to settle her federal lawsuit over the shooting death of her dog, Bailey, in October 2017
The City of Flint, Michigan, has agreed to pay a $35,000 settlement to a local dog owner, three years after a police officer fatally shot her Labrador mix named Bailey.
The City Council signed off on the five-figure payout earlier this month to settle a federal lawsuit that had been filed by Kristen Wells in 2018, claiming her Fourth Amendment rights prohibiting the government from unreasonably destroying or seizing a citizen’s property had been violated, reported Mlive.com.
In her complaint, Wells, a chaplain and counselor, said a Flint police officer was investigating an intruder report in the early morning hours of October 1, 2017, when he saw Bailey running at his flashlight in the yard and opened fire, critically injuring the dog that was being trained to help veterans.
‘Bailey was a calm, well-trained, friendly dog and had never indicated any sort of aggressive and/or violent tendencies, even in eventful situations,’ the lawsuit said. ‘Labradors are generally smart, non-aggressive, friendly dogs lacking any violent tendencies and Bailey was no different.’
The lawsuit named officer Dion Reed and the City of Flint as defendants.
According to the complaint, the 911 call that brought Reed to the group home for wounded veterans on Commonwealth Avenue, where Wells had been living with Bailey during the dog’s training as a support animal, was placed by her neighbor, who reported hearing people trying to get into his home.
Bailey, a two-year-old Labrador mix, was being trained to become a service animal for veterans when a Flint cop fatally shot her (pictured in the hospital)
Wells and Bailey were in the shared yard when they heard a noise and saw a flashlight. When the black-and-white two-year-old dog heard the noise, she started to run in the direction of the light, which was coming from Reed’s flashlight.
Reed, who had his gun drawn, fired a round that struck the dog. According to Wells’ lawsuit, the officer never announced his presence, or identified himself as police.
In a Facebook post two weeks later, Wells described how she screamed and ran into the house with her dog that was bleeding profusely. She said she and her housemates believed there was an active gunman outside who was targeting them.
She stayed indoors with her dying dog for 20 minutes, until three more Flint police officers arrived and told her that it was their colleague who had shot her dog.
According to both Wells’ post and her lawsuit, police also told her: ‘we don’t get trained to deal with dogs.’
Wells scooped up Bailey and raced to Michigan State University, where the dog was admitted in critical condition, having lost a kidney, part of a lung and small intestine. Despite multiple surgeries and other medical procedures, Bailey died four days later, leaving her owner with around $19,000 in medical bills.
The officer was investigating a report of an intruder at a neighbor’s home when Bailey came running at his flashlight
‘Bailey took the bullet for me, without hesitation, which was aimed in my direction,’ wrote Wells.
Wells’ attorney, Jim Rasor, said she is hopeful the settlement would lead to better training for police about dealing with dogs
‘In this case, there was no risk, in our opinion, to the officer whatsoever,’ Rasor told Mlive.com. ‘This was a service animal. This was like losing a family member.’
The City of Flint previously argued in court filings that Bailey charged at Reed with ‘teeth bared, lips curled back, and growling,’ and that there was no way for the officer of knowing how well-trained or well-behaved the dog was based on her actions.