On the evening of October 5, 2020, Sylvan Plowright called 911 about a possible burglary at his neighbor’s home in North Miami-Dade County. When two officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) were dispatched to the area, he expected them to investigate the possible robbery – rather than beat and shoot his American bulldog, Niles.
In body-worn camera recordings Later fired from MDPD, officers are seen shouting at Plowright to show his hands and then “get the dog or I’ll shoot him” as he and Niles meet the officers in his yard. Plowright repeatedly calls out the dog’s name, but Niles continues to bark at officers, tail wagging. One of the officers stuns the dog and the other then fires his gun at least twice at Niles.
In a federal complaint filed Jan. 17 against the county and the two officers, Plowright and his attorney, William Robinson, allege that when officers ordered Plowright to the ground when his dog was dying, they feared they “took him too.” would shoot for no reason.” The federal complaint says the county was negligent in not providing officers with adequate weapons training and “should have known” that officers were not properly trained. The complaint says Ofc. Sergio Cardona and another officer identified as L. Rondon used excessive force and intentionally caused emotional distress.
“Any sane official knew or should have known … that there is no need to kill a pet, especially after it has been tased,” the lawsuit says, seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
MDPD did not respond to an email requesting 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 published by CBS4 shows Alpha running out of the house to a police officer standing in the driveway. As the dog sniffs, barks, and wags its tail at the officer, the officer asks someone inside the home to grab the pet.
When Alpha runs up to another officer on the street, the first officer follows the barking dog onto the sidewalk, then fires his gun about seven times as she comes at him again. Alpha’s owners storm outside screaming. “Brothers, que pinga?” a man yells angrily at the officers after the shooting.
DISTURBING VIDEO: @MiamiDadePD The officer shoots the dog six times, killing it while responding to a call about dogs barking near Miami Gardens around 7 p.m. on Jan. 12 #BecauseMiami https://t.co/X34plTko93 pic.twitter.com/J78bi8UpwC
—Because Miami (@BecauseMiami) January 15, 2022
The disturbing footage prompted the Miami Coalition against race-specific legislation and Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to release statements condemning the incident. Cava announced that the officer involved was transferred to administrative duty while the department investigates the incident. The dog owners have also hired a lawyer, according to the information CBS4.
“I am deeply disturbed by this video,” Cava said in a statement.
In August 2020, MDPD officers shot and killed an 11-year-old dog named Sweetie – “a very gentle dog” — while attempting to arrest her owners’ teenage son in Southwest Miami-Dade.
It was Sergio Cordova, the officer who fired the fatal shot at Plowright’s dog, Niles finally deleted by the department after an internal investigation. Even though WSVN reports that investigators described Niles as a “vicious dog” and said the officer “fired his firearm to protect himself from serious physical injury,” Plowright explains in his federal complaint that he felt “extremely attached” to Niles and, after watching, “emotionally.” devastated” was officers killing his dog while he watched.
The lawsuit notes that Niles weighed less than 40 pounds.
“I had no children,” Plowright said WSVN. “This is my family.”