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Racine City Hall

Racine City Hall, 730 Washington Ave.

RACINE — The Racine City Council on Tuesday rejected a proposed settlement over the killing of a family dog during the execution of a “no-knock” warrant in 2016.

Representatives for the city and legal counsel for the Harmon family reached a settlement on Nov. 28 that, had it been approved by council, would have been referred to the judge for dismissal of the case.

City Attorney Scott Letteney discussed the proposed settlement with the City Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee in closed session last week and then with the Executive Committee in closed session on Tuesday before the council meeting.

The Executive Committee meeting went from 5:30 p.m. through the scheduled 6 p.m. Committee of the Whole meeting and let out just after 7 p.m., causing a late start for the City Council meeting.

Council President Jason Meekma, the alderman for the 14th District, made the motion to deny the settlement, which was approved by all aldermen except Terry McCarthy of the 9th District. Alderman Tracey Larrin of the 4th District and Alderman Jim Morgenroth of the 13th were not present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Neither Meekma nor Letteney would say whether the council objected to the terms of the settlement or to settling at all.

Letteney did not disclose what the terms of the proposed settlement were, nor whether the city would attempt to renegotiate. The trial for the case is scheduled for Feb. 11.

The background

In December 2016, the Racine Police Department, along with the Racine County Gang Unit and the FBI, executed a “no-knock” search warrant at the home of Sara and Joseph Harmon at about 5 a.m.

Law enforcement was acting on a tip about a shots-fired incident and took the Harmons’ son in for questioning.

The Harmons’ 2-year-old English bulldog, Sugar, was reportedly scared by the police breaking down the door and retreated to Sara’s room. There Sugar was shot as many as five times. The dog was taken from the scene, but a bloody mess was left on Sara’s bed and walls.

Police reportedly told the family that it is protocol to kill a dog during the execution of a search warrant, and that was all of the information the family was reportedly given.

The search did not uncover any illegal activity and no arrests were made.

The Harmons sued the City of Racine and four Racine police officers in federal court, claiming their rights to be free from unreasonable seizures and excessive force were violated when their dog was killed during the execution of the warrant.

According to police records, Sugar was the 13th dog shot from 2012 through 2016 while a search warrant was being executed.

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Christina Lieffring covers the Burlington area and the Village of Caledonia. Before moving to Racine, she lived in Nebraska, Beijing, Chicago and grew up in Kansas City.

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