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13-Man SWAT Team Raided Home Over Code Violation, Killed Dog Lawsuit Claims

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A St. Louis, Missouri woman claims in a federal lawsuit, filed Tuesday, that St. Louis County Police tactical officers raided her home over a code violation last year and killed her four-year-old pit bull, Kiya.

Angela Zorich says police initially came by her home to check if she had electricity or natural gas service, as required by county ordinance, on April 25, 2014.

Court records show that Zorich and relatives had received several landlord complaints against them since 2005 but it is not clear if one of those complaints lead to the police visit.

During the April 25 visit, Zorich’s son allegedly cussed at the officers who then inspected the home’s exterior and placed a “Problem Properties” sticker on the window.

On April 28, Zorich called the police to follow up on the matter, the federal lawsuit says, when an officer told her they were investigating the home for failing to have natural gas or electric service.

The woman says she admitted that the gas had been shut off, but then told the officer the claim about the electricity was “bullshit” before he hung up on her.

After calling back, Zorich tried to set up an inspection for a time when her husband would be home. A different officer told her that was fine, but that the investigation would continue in the meantime.

The lawsuit claims, the next day at around 12:41 p.m., Zorich was at home with several family members and her dog when a St. Louis County Police Tactical Response Unit (SWAT Team) with at least 13 officers burst through the door without knocking.

The squad – at least five tactical officers with M-4 rifles and at least eight uniformed officers – entered so quickly, the suit says, that the pit-bull Kiya didn’t even have time to bark.

An officer fired three shots into the dog, and the dog’s “bladder and bowels released and she fell to the floor,” the lawsuit says. The dog “was laying on the floor in her own waste and blood struggling to breathe. She had a gaping hole in her chest.”

Zorich claims after her dog was murdered, the officers kept trying to talk to her about the natural gas and pointed a gun at her son’s head and said “One word, motherfucker, and I’ll put three in you.”

Zorich was taken into custody and later given a notice of violation from the Housing Inspector listing citations concerning her siding, guard rail, screens, window glass and deck.

Zorich says she had raised the dog since it was a puppy and it had “never shown aggression to any person.”

“This is an example of police overreaching and using excessive force to get a family out of their house,” an attorney who is representing Zorich, Kenneth Chackes said.

Zorich says when she returned home, she found her home ransacked.

The federal suit is seeking civil action against St. Louis County and two officers, Corey Zavorka and Robert M. Rinckun for “unlawful seizure and unlawful infliction of emotional distress and unlawful retaliation.”