A man whose home Columbia police raided in February on a narcotics search warrant has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and is contemplating a civil action against the department for shooting his two dogs during the raid.
onathan E. Whitworth, 25, of 1501 Kinloch Court entered into a plea agreement with the state to drop charges of possession of marijuana and second-degree child endangerment for a guilty plea to possession of drug paraphernalia.
Investigators believed Whitworth was in possession of a large amount of marijuana and was considered a distributor, Deputy Chief Tom Dresner said in February. Police, who found a grinder, a pipe and a small amount of marijuana, shot two dogs upon entering Whitworths home around 8:30 p.m. Feb. 11.
SWAT team members encountered a pit bull upon entry, held back and then fatally shot the dog, police say. Officers said the dog was acting in an uncontrollably aggressive manner. A video of the raid shows that a shot was fired upon entry, but the pit bull was not wounded until later.
Whitworth was arrested, and his wife and 7-year-old son were present during the raid. Both his wife and child were living in the residence at the time, said Jeff Hilbrenner, Whitworths attorney. Dresner previously said that intelligence gathered before the raid did not indicate the child was in the home.
A second dog was shot in the leg but was not killed. The corgi is seen in the video and does not appear to be wounded. There is no indication when the dog was shot, and Dresner previously said he was unsure when the animal was wounded.
Their focus right now is to get this behind them, Hilbrenner said of the Whitworth family. Obviously, this was a traumatic event for his wife and son. A final decision has not been made, but they are evaluating all of their options.
Hilbrenner previously said the family was concerned with what happened and that they thought police actions were inappropriate.
After the arrest, Dresner said he believed SWAT team members followed protocol and was awaiting an Internal Affairs investigation. Investigations are conducted each time a weapon is used by officers, said spokeswoman Officer Jessie Haden.
The investigation is expected to be completed within the next two weeks and has been prolonged because a SWAT team member is out of town for training. Internal Affairs is conducting the review because the incident involved multiple shots and was inside an occupied residence, Haden said. This allows Internal Affairs sergeants to review the incident independent from the SWAT command.
The Whitworths have not filed a complaint with the department concerning the incident.