I've seen references to the article Dog Day Afternoon (Phoenix New Times, August 2004) in a few places around the internet. It tells a story of:

  • An incompetent SWAT team under Arpaio's jurisdiction (unprepared and damaged property)
  • Repeatedly firing tear gas canisters into a building
  • The building caught on fire
  • As a dog tried to escape, the SWAT team chased it back inside where it burned to death
  • The Deputies laughed at the owners as the dog burned
  • The dog was left to rot at the site for 5 days
  • They were expecting to find illegal weapons, but only found a pistol and antique shotgun

I'm feeling slightly skeptical, especially since I can't find reference to this in many major outlets. A search online seems to only show this article and a reference in passing to this article by HuffPost. I'm wondering if anyone has any additional evidence pointing to any parts of this story being true?

  • 8
    I'm slightly less skeptical, the source seems to have quite a lot of material on Arpaio: twitter.com/phoenixnewtimes/status/901263384087334914 (the thread includes the article mentioned in this post)
    – Federico
    Aug 28 '17 at 7:31
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    Re "Repeatedly firing tear gas canisters into a building with a family inside" - The Phoenix New Times article doesn't say that other occupants of the house were inside when they threw in the tear gas.
    – ff524
    Aug 28 '17 at 9:24
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    Local here: The Phoenix New Times is extremely biased. Almost nobody reads it. They have been on a mission against Arpaio for years, and really can't be trusted as a source in that case.
    – Jasmine
    Aug 28 '17 at 20:02
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    @HannoverFist The suspect was inside. But not the other occupants of the house. (The original version of this question said that there was a "family inside", which the source of the claim does not say.)
    – ff524
    Aug 28 '17 at 23:31
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    @Jasmine The Phoenix New Times isn't any more biased than most media outlets. There is also a dearth of journalism in AZ (only other "newspaper" I ever come across is AZcentral). I think it's completely incorrect to say that almost no one reads the New Times.
    – spacetyper
    Aug 29 '17 at 15:11

Parts of the story are corroborated in this account (Grado, Gary. "Charges urged in raid in which house burned." East Valley Tribune. Oct 15 2004), which is based on a statement from the sheriff's spokesperson:

Eric Kush, 26, who wasn’t the burglary suspect, refused to come out of the house when SWAT members ordered him to, so they shot tear gas through the windows.

The SWAT team made its way up the stairs of the two story home to look for Kush and sprayed his aggressive pit bull with a fire extinguisher, said Sgt. Paul Chagolla, a sheriff’s spokesman.

Chagolla said the noise of an extinguisher and the plume of fire retardant scares dogs without harming them.

As SWAT members looked for Kush upstairs, they realized the house had caught fire.

The parts of the claim re: deputies laughing, or the dog's remains having been left there, are not mentioned in this article, or any others that I have found.

The sheriff's spokesperson also confirmed that the armored personnel carrier rolled down the street and damaged a car:

The personnel carrier crashed when its engine shut off as a deputy moved it, reducing its braking capacity, Chagolla said.

The vehicle rolled down an incline and came to rest against the car, damaging its hood and front bumper.

An article in the Arizona Republic (Collom, Lindsey. "SWAT Called to Nab Suspect, Ahwatukee Peace Shattered." Arizona Republic. Jul 29 2004) offers a similar account, and corroborates the estimated cost of the damage to the house:

As Kush surrendered, the home burned, the flames consuming a large portion of the roof. [Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Elby] Bushong estimated the damage at $250,000. He said it may be a total loss.

An article in the Arizona Republic (Collom, Lindsey. "County SWAT Action Leads to New Policy." Arizona Republic. Aug 13 2004) also corroborates the part about the police (and neighbors) not having been notified in advance:

When the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office converged on an Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhood last month, residents weren't the only ones surprised.

So were Phoenix police.

The department was not warned about the operation and didn't know what the men in black and green were doing. The Ahwatukee Foothills substation was inundated with calls from concerned residents and the media the morning of July 23 when an armored vehicle and numerous SWAT personnel swarmed Chandler Boulevard and 19th Avenue.

that Kush was wanted on a misdemeanor for failing to appear in traffic court, and that

the SWAT team fired several gas canisters into the house. Fire erupted in the master bedroom on the second level of the home moments later.

Another account can be found here (Murphy, Doug. "Sheriff's SWAT raid opens door to questions." Ahwatukee Foothills News. Aug 04 2004). This article includes a comment from a neighbor:

Neighbor Scott Marlow said that he thought he heard as many as 16 loud bangs as deputies fired tear gas canisters into the 1,375-square-foot home.

and some more statements from those who lived in the house.

Another article (Murphy, Doug. "Sheriff's office seeks charges in house raid." Ahwatukee Foothills News. Oct 20 2004) also suggests that the deputies forced the dog back into the house:

During the raid the home caught fire, deputies forced Kush's dog into the house where it died, and a SWAT armored personnel carrier rolled into a parked car.

and it also cites the same report from the sheriff's office as the Oct. '04 East Valley Tribune article:

The report states that as SWAT members searched the house, a pit bull came toward them. Deputies used a fire extinguisher to scare the dog away and into the master bedroom.

As tear gas was being shot into the house, a fire erupted in the master bedroom. Phoenix fire officials say the $225,000 home and its contents were a total loss.

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    Wow thanks, that's pretty detailed. So most of the story is backed by other sources, just the Phoenix New Times article seems to include statements from the occupants which include additional details (such as laughing) not covered by other sources.
    – SCB
    Aug 28 '17 at 21:56
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    @SCB Yes. The Phoenix New Times article references a TV piece (on KTVK-TV Channel 3) in which Kush made the claim about the deputies laughing, but I haven't been able to track down that clip (local TV clips from 2004 are not necessarily available online...)
    – ff524
    Aug 28 '17 at 22:05
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    Let me get this straight..... the deputies noticed the house was on fire. Was it already at a level that nothing could be done, or could nothing be done because they already discharged the fire extinguisher at the dog? It's fine if you don't know, that just popped into my head when reading your answer. Aug 30 '17 at 17:16
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    or just put each claim before the pieces of evidence that prove each and put the rest at the bottom as having no evidence.
    – Adam Davis
    Aug 30 '17 at 18:40
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    A SWAT team over a traffic ticket? Glad I don't live in AZ.
    – user34422
    Aug 30 '17 at 20:37

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