We have been following a growing trend of alleged unjustified shootings of pet dogs by police officers. We can now add a case out of Chicago where a 7-month-old miniature bull terrier, called “The Colonel” by neighbors, was shot by a police officer. A lawsuit names Officer Brandon Pettigrew as the cop who twice shot The Colonel, which weighs less than 30 pounds. According to witnesses, the officer then calmly returned to writing the ticket and handed it to the distraught owner. The police returned three days later, according to media reports, and asked why the owners were speaking to the media . . . and proceeded to give them a ticket for having a dog off a leash.
The incident happened near my family’s house on the north side of Chicago.
On Saturday afternoon, witnesses say that the Colonel followed his owner outside of the owner’s gated home where the officer was writing a parking ticket for the van of Al Phillips. According to witnesses, the officer warned him about having a dog without a leash twice and then proceeded to shoot the puppy twice. Witnesses say the puppy was not threatening the officer, who then proceeded to finish his ticket and give it to a distraught Phillips.
The Colonel was rushed to an emergency vet and had five hours of surgery to save his life.
What is incredible is that the police returned later to the scene while Phillips was speaking with a reporter and demanded to know why he contacted the media. According to the report, they then gave him a ticket for not keeping his dog on a leash.
That was three days after the incident.
The ticket deepens the controversy. I have never heard of a leash ticket being written three days after such a common occurrence. I walk our dog in Chicago regularly during holidays and often see dogs off the leash. The ticket raises concerns of retaliation. It was entirely inappropriate for the officers to ask for an explanation of why the family was speaking to the media, if this is found to have occurred. The presence of a reporter adds credence to the allegation. To then combine such an improper question with a ticket only magnifies the misconduct.
Even if the ticket was not retaliation for embarrassing the CPD, it seems calculated to cover the officer for the shooting by citing the owner after-the-fact. Unfortunately, Cook County Anita Alvarez is not viewed as particularly protective of citizens in confrontations with the police.
The lawsuit is likely to get more information and action than official channels, unfortunately. Among other things, it could allow for discovery not only on the incident but the governing policies of the CPD.