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SWAT team kills St. Paul family's dogs during raid, no arrests made

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A St. Paul couple says they're talking with an attorney about a possible lawsuit after a SWAT team killed the family's two pit bulls while executing a search warrant, the Pioneer Press reports.

Camille Perry, who is eight months pregnant, told the newspaper she threw her body over her two sleeping children and screamed "Stop shooting!" when officers opened fire on the dogs at about 7 a.m. Wednesday.

A St. Paul police spokesman told FOX 9 the dogs charged at the officers, who feared for their safety.

Perry and her fiancee, Larry Arman, told the Pioneer Press the dogs, Mello and Laylo,were sleeping near the door and only barked when the SWAT team used a battering ram to enter the home on St. Paul's east side.

Perry said she was preparing for work when the raid occurred, while Arman was sleeping alongside the children, ages 4 and 7, on a mattress on the floor.

The couple told the newspaper they would have allowed the officers to search the home if they had knocked. They said the officers were searching for marijuana, guns, computers, and equipment for weighing or packaging drugs.

Arman and Perry told FOX the only items confiscated were a bong, a grinder that may have had marijuana residue, and some clothes.

The Pioneer Press says Minneapolis police had obtained the search warrant and executed it with the assistance of a St. Paul SWAT team.

The paper says police can seek permission from a judge to serve a warrant without knocking if they believe evidence may be destroyed or officers endangered while executing the warrant.

Arman acknowledged to both FOX and the Pioneer Press that he smokes marijuana but says he does not sell it. The Pioneer Press says he was released from prison more than a decade ago after a felony assault conviction.

Now he and Perry are cleaning up. He showed FOX stains left by the blood of the dogs. The couple told the Pioneer Press the SWAT team pulled out vents and tore out the home's insulation.

Officers shooting dogs

In 2012 the Star Tribune looked at the quandry police face when they encounter potentially dangerous dogs. In March of that year a Minneapolis officer opened fire at two pit bulls during a pursuit but mistakenly shot another officer in the leg.

A Minneapolis police spokesman told the Star Tribune that gunfire is an appropriate response to the unpredictable threat posed by dogs. But attorney Paul Applebaum disagreed, saying:

"They're going into homes and shooting up homes. How do you know there isn't a kid behind the couch where the dog is? There's going to be a real tragedy some day if this keeps up."

That 2012 Minneapolis case led to a lawsuit later that year, City Pages reported.

The shooting of a dog by a Salt Lake City police officer last month recently led hundreds of people to protest outside that city's police headquarters.

In that case an officer shot a dog that was said to be acting aggressively while inside a fenced backyard enclosure as police searched the neighborhood for a missing boy.

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