Labrador? They shot a fucking Labrador, a dog known to be afraid of its own shadow.....they shot a Labrador.....
A Frederick County Circuit Court jury in the civil case filed by a Taneytown couple whose dog was shot by a sheriff's deputy found in favor of the plaintiffs Monday evening.
The six-person panel deliberated for more than 4 1/2 hours before returning a verdict to award Roger and Sandi Jenkins $620,000 in damages, according to plaintiff's attorney Rebekah Lusk.
They found that--Deputy First Class Timothy Brooks violated the Jenkinses rights under the Maryland constitution when he shot their chocolate Labrador retriever, Brandi, on Jan. 9, 2010, while he and Deputy First Class Nathan Rector were at their Bullfrog Road home looking for their son, who was wanted on a civil warrant called a body attachment.
The jury also found that Brooks and Rector violated the couple's rights by entering their home without permission.
The plaintiffs had argued that Roger Jenkins rescinded his permission to enter the home after shooting the dog, and that the denial of permission should have been implied under the circumstances anyway. The deputies both said they never heard Jenkins tell them not to enter.
"We are thrilled with the verdict and feel that justice has been served," Lusk said.
Lusk said the defense raised some issues with the verdict that will be heard today. She couldn't disclose the nature of the issues but said Judge Marielsa Bernard was bringing the jury back.
"The news is good, but it's not over yet," Roger Jenkins said.
Brooks called the jury's decision "outrageous and ridiculous" and claimed plaintiff's attorneys routinely misrepresented facts to paint him and Rector in the worst light possible. He said he was never able to fully articulate under questioning why what he said was a quick dart toward him by the dog led to the split second decision to shoot.
"If he had got hold of even an arm, he could have taken me down and done some serious damage," Brooks said of the dog. "The last thing I want to do is hurt either another person or an animal."
Brooks also said he believes the suit was driven my "money and greed."--
Before beginning deliberations, the jury heard accusations fly during contentious closing arguments from the attorneys.
Assistant Attorney General Roger Wolfe Jr., who was representing the state of Maryland, drew the ire of plaintiff's attorney Cary Hansel when he suggested that Roger Jenkins has a "character flaw" and may have been willing to sacrifice his dog to protect his son.
In response, Hansel called Wolfe's accusations "disgusting." He said he wondered why Roger Jenkins told the deputies they could come in and look for his son after he put his dogs away -- and why Jerrett Jenkins didn't run from the house -- if he was trying to protect him.
"That is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard in a courtroom in a long time," Hansel said of the suggestion that the Jenkinses were protecting their son.
Wolfe, along with attorney for the defense Dan Karp, focused much of their attention on the actions of Roger Jenkins, who they said was largely responsible for the shooting of his dog. They said Jenkins could have told the deputies that his son wasn't home, because he hadn't lived there in several months since being kicked out, and that he could have taken more action to secure the dogs.
"He made certain decisions that led us to this sorry state," Karp said of Roger Jenkins.
But Hansel said the Jenkinses knew their son sometimes sneaked back in the house, and that Roger Jenkins was being honest when he told them he wasn't sure if his son was home.
Hansel said that by suggesting that Roger Jenkins' actions led to the shooting of his dog, the defense was implying that citizens should fear for the safety of their dogs around law enforcement.
"What they're suggesting is that Mr. Jenkins should have known that police officers will gun down your dog," Hansel said.
Lusk wouldn't speculate about the effect Wolfe's aggressive approach may have had on the jury, but said it was "appalling" to see a representative of the state make such accusations against one of its citizens.
Wolfe asked jurors not to engage in "20/20 hindsight," and said that the plaintiff's case amounted to little more than "Monday morning quarterbacking." He said Brooks retreated before deciding in the last half-second to shoot the dog.
"What part of that is grossly negligent?" Wolfe said, referring to the standards by which the jury must judge the case. "What part of that is negligent? What part of that is malicious?"
Sheriff Chuck Jenkins -- who called Hansel a "good salesman" and said the verdict was a major blow to the department -- said he believes the finding of gross negligence was a reach on the part of the jury.
Insurance will pay the settlement amount, he said.
"I thought the monetary damages were excessive, but to me the real tragedy here was the finding of gross negligence on the deputies' part," Jenkins said. "There was nothing that reached that threshold. These guys were just doing their jobs."