A Los Angeles police detective assisting in a drug raid on a Van Nuys house Wednesday was pushed against a wall by a dog and was accidently shot in the thigh by another officer aiming at the animal, police said.
Detective Ronald B. Michel, 35, was in satisfactory condition at Northridge Hospital, Cmdr. William Booth said. The wound was not considered serious, Booth said, but Michel will be hospitalized several days.
The shooting occurred shortly before 7 a.m., as 15 officers were serving a warrant to search for drugs at a residence in the 15700 block of Saticoy Street, near Van Nuys Airport, Lt. Charles Higbie said.
The officers found 1 1/2 pounds of amphetamines valued at more than $50,000 in the house, along with traces of heroin and cocaine, Higbie said. Also found were 30 electronic items, such as television sets and video recorders, which police suspect were stolen. Two had already been traced to burglaries in Hollywood and North Hollywood, Higbie said. The bomb squad was called in to remove a baseball-size explosive device that was later found to be a legal “seal bomb,” named for its use by fishermen to scatter seals, he said.
An occupant of the house, Stephen M. Fabricant, 32, was arrested on suspicion of possessing narcotics for sale, Booth said, and was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail in Van Nuys Jail. Fabricant is the son of Barbara Toth, an animal-rights advocate in the San Fernando Valley.
A woman who lives in the house also was taken into custody but later was released, Booth said.
Higbie said the shooting occurred after those inside the house refused police orders to open the door. Michel and Officer Lawrence R. Skiba, 39, “affected a forced entry” and encountered a Rottweiler dog that “had been attack trained,” Higbie said.
The officers temporarily subdued the dog by spraying it with a portable fire extinguisher, but it turned and attacked Michel, shoving the officer against a wall, Higbie said. Skiba fired two shots, Higbie said, one of which went through the dog’s chest and Michel’s thigh.
The dog was taken to a veterinarian and was expected to recover, Booth said.
‘Had No Choice’
Toth, founder of the Animal Lovers Legal Action Humane Society, went to the home after the shooting and told reporters that the officers had no alternative but to shoot her son’s dog.
“He’s a Rottweiler,” she said, noting that the black, short-haired breed is often used as a guard dog. “He’s extremely protective and he can be vicious. The police officer had no choice, I’m sure.”
Toth’s ex-husband, Sidney Fabricant, was beaten to death in 1984 in the bedroom of the Saticoy Street home during what police believed was a burglary. The elder Fabricant, a well-known gambler known as “Sid the Squid,” was buried in a service that included tapes of races at Santa Anita Racetrack.
To attend the funeral, Stephen Fabricant was furloughed from the Federal Corrections Institute at Terminal Island, where he was serving a six-month sentence on a narcotics conviction. Toth said her son is a motorcycle enthusiast who associates with members of the Hell’s Angels.
“This house has just been a bad-luck house,” said Toth, who has since remarried. “It’s been one tragedy after another here.”