The family of a dog that was fatally shot by a San Diego police officer filed a lawsuit Tuesday, claiming the killing was unwarranted and that officers callously allowed the pet to bleed to death in the aftermath.
Grizzly, a 7-year-old mixed breed, was shot at least three times by Officer Robert Meiselman on Feb. 22. The officer was investigating reports of a stolen struck and had gone into the fenced-in yard of a home in search of witnesses.
According to the complaint, the officer was told by the neighbor who reported the stolen truck that a family dog lived on the property. There were also several “Beware of Dog” signs posted on the fence that surrounded the home.
Meiselman entered the property and was banging on the door when Grizzly emerged. Police said the dog lunged at the officer, who feared for his life and shot the animal.
The dog’s owners, Alfredo and Socorro Fuentes, said they were startled awake by the officer’s pounding. Alfredo Fuentes was just about to open the door when he heard the gunshots.
He walked outside and spotted a blood trail that led him to his dying dog.
The family said Fuentes repeatedly asked officers to help him with his wounded pet, but he was ignored. At one point, an officer gave Fuentes the address of a pet hospital seven miles away.
Police said they called the county Department of Animal Services after the shooting, but that a dispatcher said the dog was the owner’s responsibility as long as he was alive. It is unclear if the dispatcher knew the dog had been wounded by an officer.
“The Fuentes family’s subsequent repeated pleas for the police officers on the scene to get medical help for their beloved dog were ignored,” the complaint read. “Grizzly ultimately bled to death … over a period of two hours.”
The Fuentes family is suing Meiselman, the San Diego Police Department and the city of San Diego for $525,000.
Winkley writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune