July 11, 2013
In a press release issued on July 10, 2013, Attorney Jill Ryther filed a lawsuit for her client Arturo Gonzalez in the death of his dog.
The lawsuit is a civil complaint filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court Southeast District, Norwalk Courthouse, in unlimited jurisdiction against the City of Pico Rivera and the County of Los Angeles. Both are charged with the brutal and unlawful shooting of a beloved family member.
According to the complaint, Chico Blue was no threat to officers until one of the officers picked up a lounge chair and threw it over the fence at Chico. Then another officer opened the gate to the area where the dog was securely enclosed, where the officer used a Taser twice on the dogs face.
Arturo pleaded with officers as Chico cried out in pain from the attack. He begged officers to allow him to take Chico into the home, but the officers refused.
Chico then staggered through the gate, which had been left open by an officer, and was shot twice. Chico then attempted to flee by jumping into the officer’s squad car. The officer kicked the door close with Chico inside. Chico bled to death soon after.
Arturo was unable to get help for his dog, since officers detained him in a police vehicle, even though he wasn’t connected to the shooting in any way.
The complaint alleges the Sheriff’s Department officers used poor judgment to the level of inexplicable cruelty. The end result was another unnecessary murder of a four-legged family member.
Will this lawsuit end the sheer number of cases now on record where innocent dogs are killed by police? Not likely, but if enough of these cases are brought to trial, and the officers are held accountable for their actions, perhaps officers will think twice about killing a family dog.
Many police department’s are now considering training in dog behavior for all officers. This may help officers who shoot family dogs out of ignorance. It’s unlikely it will stop cases such as Chico Blue, where the officer purposely antagonized the dog, then left the gate open for the dog to escape.
All the dog behavior classes in the world won’t fix “mean.” Officers who yell “Nice!” after shooting a retreating dog, or who “hi-five” each other or laugh over a kill are still going to be out there.
This type of officer is a risk to people, as well as dogs. It’s unfortunate that only through lawsuits such as the one filed on July 10, is there a chance police departments will think twice about hiring (and supporting) trigger-happy officers.
Large settlements paid to the victims involved should become the norm rather than the exception. Anyone whose dog is shot and killed by police needs to stick up and be the voice for their slain family member. Only then can we put an end to so many dogs being shot by police