St. Paul PD defends killing dogs while executing search warrant that didn't lead to arrest
On Wednesday morning, a St. Paul Police Department SWAT team kicked down Larry Arman's door and shot his two beloved pitbulls to death.
All screengrabs via Fox 9 Pit bulls Mellow, 5 (left), and Laylo, 13, were killed.
Officers were executing a no-knock search warrant as part of an investigation instigated by Minneapolis police, law enforcement officials in both cities tell us. They didn't find much -- according to Fox 9, the search yielded clothing, a glass bong, and suspected marijuana crumbs in a metal grinder.
Law enforcement officials tell us nobody was arrested, though charges of some sort could still be forthcoming after officials disclose exactly what they found during the search in court. That hadn't happened as of yesterday, but search warrants have to be filed in court within 10 days of a warrant being executed, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder says.
As if killing Arman's dogs wasn't bad enough, the SWAT team's gunfire came in close proximity to his two young children, who were sleeping on a mattress with Arman when the door to his St. Paul house on East Maryland Avenue near Jackson Street was kicked in, Fox reports.
Arman admits he smokes pot recreationally but says officers had no reason to barge into his house.
Arman's fiance, Camille Perry, was in the bathroom getting ready for work at the time. As shots rang out, "The only thing I was thinking was my kids were going to get hit by bullets," she told Fox.
We asked St. Paul Police Department spokesman Paul Paulos about why a no-knock warrant was sought in this case. He wouldn't comment specifically but did offer the following response.
"The St. Paul PD trains in a manner that is safe and secure and has integrity, and anytime an animal has to be put down, that means the animal was a threat to that team member or to the team," he says, going on to confirm that St. Paul officers were indeed the ones who fired the shots that killed the dogs.
"That means [the dogs] took an aggressive stance," Paulos continues. "We know that animals are pretty much like family members, and it's not our intent when we enter a house to dispatch dogs. I think it's unfortunate that in this case the officer feared he himself would be bitten or one of his team members."
That sentiment was echoed by Elder.
Perry says a lawsuit against police will be forthcoming.
"There's a myriad of reasons why any agency would do a warrant without knocking," Elder says. "It's a heightened level and they're not handed out easily. There are lots of reasons, whether it's officer safety, safety for the community, or the public, there's a lot of reasons why any law enforcement agency will request it."
We called Ramsey County jail officials to ask about Arman's criminal record. An official told us he has been arrested "more than 20 times," but not recently. The Pioneer Press reports that Arman last got out of prison a decade ago for a felony assault conviction and has priors for drug possession and possession of a pistol by a felon. He was convicted of misdemeanor DWI in 2011.
Arman and Perry already have a lawyer and are planning to sue police, the PiPress reports.
"The whole time all I could scream was, 'Stop shooting, stop shooting!'" Perry told the PiPress. "I just believe [police] didn't investigate enough."