A group of Detroit police officers executing a narcotics search warrant knocked on Nikita Smith’s door on January 14, 2016. The only fact that both Smith and the officers agree on after that point is that, a short while later, Smith’s three dogs were all shot dead.
What really happened in the moments between could be a costly question for the city of Detroit. In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in May, Smith says the Detroit police executed her three pit bulls, Debo, Mama, and Smoke, without provocation. Essentially, they acted as a “dog death squad.”
According the lawsuit, Smith tried to tell the officers she was putting her dogs away, and placed two in the basement and one in the bathroom. As the officers burst into the house, Debo slipped back upstairs. The officers shot it as it sat down by Jones. Next, they charged into the basement and shot Mama, who was pregnant and backed into a corner. Finally, they moved onto the bathroom, where Smoke was closed in.
One of the officers cracked the door open, peeked inside, and closed it again. “Should we do that one, too?” the officer asked, according to the lawsuit, before two of them fired through the closed door, killing Smoke.