Sturgeon Community In Turmoil: $1M Lawsuit and Mayor's Resignation After Police Shooting of Disabled Dog

 June 1, 2024

A tragic event has shaken the small town of Sturgeon, Missouri, as a police officer fatally shot Teddy, a blind and deaf Shih Tzu.

Daily Mail Online reported that the fallout has led to public outrage, a hefty lawsuit, and significant changes in local governance.

The five-year-old Shih Tzu weighed only 13 pounds when he encountered Officer Myron Woodson in a grassy field on May 19. Officer Woodson, recorded on bodycam, attempted to corral Teddy with a lasso before shooting him. This action was justified by Woodson as a necessity, citing the absence of animal control resources in Sturgeon and believing the dog could be a rabies risk.

Following this incident, Nicholas Hunter, the dog's owner, sought justice by filing a $1 million lawsuit against the city and Officer Woodson, accusing them of violating his Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The tension escalated to the point where Mayor Kevin Abrahamson felt compelled to resign due to increasing public pressure.

Public Response: Calls for Justice and Transparency

A subsequent town hall meeting revealed the community's alignment with Teddy and displeasure toward the police department's actions. During this emotionally charged session, residents voiced strong opinions about the future of their police force.

One resident notably declared, "We back the blue except Woodson. Fire him!" while another proposed a radical idea to dissolve the police department entirely until all issues were addressed comprehensively.

Officer Woodson, now on paid leave, defended his actions during the incident by explaining his perspective. He claimed that without knowing Teddy's disabilities, he assumed the dog was wandering sick and potentially hazardous.

Differing Perceptions and Legal Battles

The town initially defended Officer Woodson's actions out of a concern for community safety. However, this stance later became complicated by the admission that Teddy had shown no aggression and was merely unable to navigate due to his disabilities.

The dialogue between Officer Woodson and concerned neighbors just after the incident highlighted the contentious nature of his decision. "I had to dispatch it," Woodson explained after a worried neighbor confronted him, questioning the immediacy and lack of warning before the gunfire.

Teddy's co-owner, Abbey Harnish, and their lawyer, Daniel Kolde, have reacted fiercely, arguing that this should be seen as more than a civil issue and suggesting criminal implications. Daniel Kolde expressed, "We think that Officer Woodson's actions constitute felony animal abuse and, in addition to the filing of our civil suit, we are calling upon the country prosecutor to bring his criminal charges against this officer."

During the altercation, Teddy's owner, Nicholas Hunter, questioned the necessity of Woodson's decision to shoot, highlighting the lack of immediate threat posed by Teddy. Abbey Harnish summarized the communal despair, emphasizing that no resolution would bring Teddy back but insisted on systemic changes within the police force and the city's handling of such situations.

As Sturgeon grapples with this divisive issue, the overarching demand from its residents is for accountability and reform in how law enforcement handles similar situations in the freshman future. Their fervent push for justice memorializes Teddy and calls for broader implications on police conduct and animal rights within the town.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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