Friday, April 22, 2011

Leave That Dog Alone


I don't think this guy is going to get anywhere with his frivolous lawsuit:
A Mason man charged with teasing a police dog by barking at it says a city law violates free speech rights.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the attorney for 25-year-old Ryan James Stephens says his client was not striking the animal in suburban Mason. Lawyer Jim Hardin says barking may not be seen as intelligent speech but is "still speech." He questions the validity of a city law that bars taunting police dogs.
A police officer investigating a car crash at a pub on April 3 reported he heard the dog barking uncontrollably. The officer said he found Stephens making barking noises and hissing at a dog inside the police car.
The problem is, the civil code of Ohio is pretty clear on this subject:
(B) No person shall recklessly do any of the following: 
(1) Taunt, torment, or strike a police dog or horse
(2) Throw an object or substance at a police dog or horse; 
(3) Interfere with or obstruct a police dog or horse, or interfere with or obstruct a law enforcement officer who is being assisted by a police dog or horse, in a manner that does any of the following: 
(a) Inhibits or restricts the law enforcement officer's control of the police dog or horse; 
(b) Deprives the law enforcement officer of control of the police dog or horse; 
(c) Releases the police dog or horse from its area of control; 
(d) Enters the area of control of the police dog or horse without the consent of the law enforcement officer, including placing food or any other object or substance into that area; 
(e) Inhibits or restricts the ability of the police dog or horse to assist a law enforcement officer. 
I've bolded the parts of the code that seem to apply. You cannot interfere with the officer's control of the police dog, and that would fall under taunting it in such a way as to make the dog bark uncontrollably. Free speech doesn't really apply because a criminal could argue that calling out for help or assistance while being arrested by a police officer is free speech as well. I don't think the case has merit, but if the courts disagree then look for further distraction.
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