Police

Man Sues After Miami-Dade Cops Fatally Shot, Tased His Dog "For No Reason"

One Miami-Dade Police officer tased the dog, the other then fired his gun at least twice.
One Miami-Dade Police officer tased the dog, the other then fired his gun at least twice. Screenshot via MDPD body-worn camera footage
On the evening of October 5, 2020, Sylvan Plowright called 911 about a potential break-in at his neighbor's home in North Miami-Dade County. When two Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) officers were dispatched to the area, he expected them to investigate the potential robbery — not tase and shoot his American Bulldog, Niles, to death.

In body-worn camera footage later released by MDPD, officers can be seen shouting for Plowright to show his hands and then to "get the dog or I’m gonna shoot it," as he and Niles meet the officers in his yard. Plowright repeatedly calls the dog's name, but Niles continues to bark at the officers with his tail wagging. One of the officers tases the dog, and the other then fires his gun at least two times at Niles.

In a federal complaint filed against the county and the two officers on January 17, Plowright and his attorney, William Robinson, claim when the officers ordered Plowright to the ground as his dog lay dying, he feared they "would shoot him for no reason too." The federal complaint states that the county was negligent in not providing the officers with proper weapons training and "should have known" the officers weren't adequately trained. The complaint states that Ofc. Sergio Cardona and another officer identified as L. Rondon used excessive force and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

"Any reasonable officer knew, or should have known...there is no need to kill a family pet, especially after it has been Tased," states the complaint, which seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

MDPD did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The lawsuit was filed just days after another MDPD officer shot and killed an 8-month-old American Bully named Alpha outside a home near Miami Gardens. Home surveillance footage released by CBS4 shows Alpha running out of the home toward an officer who's standing in the driveway. As the dog sniffs the officer, barks, and wags his tail, the officer asks someone inside the residence to grab the pet.

When Alpha runs toward another officer on the street, the first officer follows the barking dog to the sidewalk and then fires his weapon roughly seven times when it comes toward him again. Alpha's owners rush outside screaming. "Bro, que pinga?" one man angrily shouts at the officer following the shooting.
The disturbing footage prompted the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation and Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to release statements condemning the incident. Cava announced that the officer involved was placed on administrative duty as the department investigates the incident. The dog's owners have also retained an attorney, according to CBS4.

"I'm deeply disturbed by this video," Cava said in a statement.

In August of 2020, MDPD officers shot and killed an 11-year-old dog named Sweetie — "a very gentle-natured dog" — while attempting to arrest her owners' teenage son in Southwest Miami-Dade.

Sergio Cordova, the officer who fired the fatal shots against Plowright's dog, Niles, was eventually cleared by the department following an internal affairs investigation. Though WSVN reports that investigators described Niles as a "vicious dog" and said the officer "discharged his firearm to protect himself from serious physical injury," Plowright states in his federal complaint that he was "extremely attached" to Niles and was "emotionally devastated" after watching officers kill his dog while he looked on.

The lawsuit notes that Niles weighed less than 40 pounds.

"I didn’t have no kids," Plowright told WSVN. "This is my family."
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Alex DeLuca is a staff writer at Miami New Times.
Contact: Alex DeLuca