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Killing of dog by police officer was unnecessary, family argued








Anne Arundel County


Anne Arundel County, Circuit Court

Injury Type(s):

mental/psychological-emotional distress

Case Type:

Government – Police; Gross Negligence; Civil Rights – Police as Defendant

Case Name:

Michael Reeves and Timothy C. Reeves v. Kevin Davis, Rodney Price and Anne Arundel County Maryland,
No. C-02-CV-15-002956


May 9, 2017



Michael Reeves (Male, 40 Years), 

Timothy C. Reeves (Male, 14 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Cary J. Hansel III;
Hansel Law, PC;
Michael Reeves, Timothy C. Reeves ■ Erienne Sutherell;
Hansel Law, PC;
Michael Reeves, Timothy C. Reeves


Kevin Davis, 

Rodney Price, 

Anne Arundel County Maryland

Defense Attorney(s):

Philip E. Culpepper;
Senior Assistant County Attorney;
Kevin Davis, Rodney Price, Anne Arundel County Maryland


On Feb. 12, 2014, plaintiff Michael Reeves, 40, and his son, plaintiff Timothy C. Reeves, 14, had a 4-year-old retriever dog that was shot and killed by Anne Arundel County police officer Rodney Price. At the time of the shooting, Price and another officer, Keven Davis, were canvassing the Chesapeake Bay neighborhood following a burglary. The dog was shot in the front yard of a residential house. The Reeveses sued Price, Davis and Anne Arundel County Maryland for negligence and gross negligence. Prior to trial, Davis was dismissed from the case. The matter proceeded to trial against Price and the county only. The plaintiffs claimed Price unjustly and unnecessarily shot and killed their dog Vern. They argued that Price was not attacked by Vern and the shooting violated their constitutional rights. They further claimed that Price was trained to use pepper spray, mace and a baton and could have used of any one of those in lieu of shooting the dog. The Reeveses maintained that Vern never growled at or menaced Price before the shooting. Price claimed he had no choice but to shoot Vern. He argued that he was looking around the property where the Reeveses lived when the dog suddenly and unexpectedly jumped out at him while barking. Price claimed he shot the dog because he feared for his life.


Michael and Timothy Reeves both claimed they were deeply traumatized and devastated over the killing of their dog, with Michael claiming that it felt as if part of him died the day Vern was shot. They asserted that they will need therapy to deal with the loss of their beloved dog, who was like a member of the family.


The jury found Rodney Price grossly negligent and that Price’s actions violated the Reeveses’ constitutional rights. The jury awarded $1.26 million to the plaintiffs, including $500,000 in compensatory damages and $760,000 for emotional pain and suffering.

Trial Information:


Mark Crooks

Trial Length:


Trial Deliberations:


Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was obtained from plaintiffs’ counsel, as well as information gleaned from court documents. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.