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Federal appeals court: Minneapolis cop who shot service dogs won't be shielded by qualified immunity


November 18, 2021

COURTNEY PEDROZA - Star Tribune file

Rocko after he returned home from surgery on his gunshot wounds in 2017.

A Minneapolis police officer who shot two service dogs in 2017 acted unreasonably and should not be protected under qualified immunity, a federal appeals panel ruled this week.

Qualified immunity shields police officers and other public officials from being sued if they are acting reasonably within the duties of their jobs. But officer Michael Mays lost this protection when he hopped the fence that day, responding to an accidentally triggered home alarm system, and repeatedly shot two pit bulldogs who greeted him, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit decision.

The appeals court's decision, which affirms a previous ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim, means a lawsuit against Mays and the city of Minneapolis can move forward. Minneapolis City Attorney Jim Rowader declined to comment for this story.


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