Howd & Ludorf, LLC Wins Federal Civil Rights Trial for Hartford Police Detectives
Howd & Ludorf, LLC Partner Thomas R. Gerarde won a verdict for two Hartford police detectives in U.S District Court on May 29, 2012 in the case of Harris v. O’Hare, et al. The two detectives, acting on a tip regarding the whereabouts of illegal handguns, entered the plaintiff's property, only to be confronted by a large dog that charged at them. They ran, but could not escape the dog, and faced a threat of imminent harm. One detective fired his weapon three times as the dog lunged at him, killing the dog. The Detectives were sued by the property owner, who claimed illegal entry onto the property, illegal seizure of the dog, and a due process violation. Attorney Gerarde argued that the officers' presence on the property did not represent a 4th amendment search and, in any event, the exigent circumstances and community caretaker exceptions to the warrant requirement applied. Furthermore, Attorney Gerarde argued the killing of the dog was justified in response to the imminent threat of injury, and the Detectives' behavior did not meet the Due Process threshold of “conscience shocking” behavior. The eight person jury returned a unanimous verdict for the Hartford Police Detectives on its second day of deliberation.