PHILADELPHIA, PA — A family was disturbed by a midnight visit from police, looking for a crime suspect who didn’t live there. As officers searched the home, with three young children present, they fired a gun at a dog that had the nerve to bark at them.
Around 12:30 a.m. on September 30, Bienvenido Gutierrez and his fiancée, Nina Castro, heard sounds coming from the back of their home in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. Then came an unexpected knock on the front door. It was a half-dozen police officers from the First Judicial Warrant Unit. They had a warrant for the arrest of Bienvenido’s brother, Joshua Gutierrez.
Bienvenido explained to police that his brother had moved out 6 years ago, and was not present in the home. The officers would hear nothing of it, and proceeded to comb the house with guns drawn — even to the bedroom where his three young children were sleeping; ages 7, 2, and 10 months.
A dog sleeping in the children’s bedroom name Suzzie barked at the warrant officers when they intruded upon its protective territory. This was enough for one trigger-happy cop to fire at it in front of the children. The bullet did not strike the dog, or anyone else, but left an impact on the family.
“Their whole demeanor was that they were gonna shoot to kill,” said Bienvenido Gutierrez to NBC10. “They wanted to shoot something.”
As an NBC10 interviewed Gutierrez — while he was forced to stand outside his home until 3:00 a.m. — he explained that police would not listen to his requests to safely restrain the dogs.
“I think if they just would have let me grab my dog and grab my kids there would have been no shots fired,” Gutierrez reasoned.
To the officers’ credit, they knocked on the door and did not break it down. They presumably had a warrant, insomuch as they were from the “Warrant Unit.” They were even pursuing a legitimate crime; Joshua Gutierrez is suspected of carjacking earlier this summer.
But all these things are overshadowed by their tactics inside the house. The sins of one’s brother should not be held against an innocent family in the middle of the night. Failure to yield to the homeowner’s requests, and their firing at a house pet that was understandably disturbed by intruders, is unacceptable. These kind of experiences leave a lasting negative impression on people. These children will recall that one of their earliest memories of dealing with police was when they barged into their bedroom in the middle of the night and shot at their dog.
Was there a better way?