Owner of Puppy Shot by Police Beats Ticket for No Leash
The ticket was dismissed in court last month because of a lack of evidence — and now the owners of the wounded dog plan to sue the police sergeant who issued the citation, along with the shooter.
Lawyers for the Phillips family, who own the puppy named Colonel, said Monday they will include Sgt. Alejandro Silva and a yet-unidentified Town Hall Police District official believed to be a lieutenant as defendants in a pending federal court case against the triggerman, Officer Gregory Pettigrew. Pettigrew shot the miniature bull terrier on Dec. 1.
On Dec. 3, World Gym Chicago owners Al and Barbara Phillips said they were "expecting an apology" for the shooting when two Town Hall officials visited their Uptown home. Instead, Al Phillips was slapped with a ticket saying he had "failed to keep his dog, a male bull terrier, restrained within his property or leashed and under his control."
“You don’t send a sergeant and a lieutenant to bring a dog ticket,” Barbara Phillips said.
Silva wrote the ticket, according to a copy of the document. But on Jan. 22, the city's Department of Administrative hearings ruled there was no evidence to uphold the citation.
Family lawyer Erron Fisher said it was the right ruling because, "Sgt. Silva was not a witness, had no first-hand knowledge of the incident, and did not reference Officer Pettigrew in the citation," so "he could not, under oath, attest to facts that support the alleged violation.
"We believe the city was in fact trying to get the Phillips family not to talk about this," Fisher added of the Dec. 3 home visit.
Fisher said he does not know the name of the other police official who allegedly visited the Phillips family, but he anticipates that disclosures from the department under federal rules of civil procedure will reveal the person's identity "within three weeks."
"We will add them to the lawsuit," he said.
Since December, the Chicago Police Department has denied or partially denied several Freedom of Information Act requests from DNAinfo.com Chicago seeking records related to the shooting, including police reports and 911 recordings.
A FOIA request did, however, reveal a few details about Pettigrew, who claims an annual salary of $80,724.
The two bullets fired at Colonel in December marked the first time in Pettigrew's 15 years on the force that he fired a weapon in the line of duty, documents show.
The Police Department's Internal Affairs Division has reprimanded Pettigrew five times between 2006 and 2011 for unspecified court appearance violations. While DNAinfo requested "all records of disciplinary action" taken against Pettigrew, nothing in the department's reply detailed the circumstances of the violations.
Witnesses to the shooting said that Pettigrew had been writing Al Phillips a parking ticket for blocking the driveway in front of the business owner's house when Phillips emerged from the home to speak with the officer.
Colonel ran out ahead of his master, unleashed, and began sniffing around near Pettigrew, who screamed two quick warnings before firing two shots and finishing the ticket, witnesses said.
The 20-pound puppy was in surgery for nearly six hours because of a bullet lodged in one of his paws and shrapnel that pierced his belly. Colonel is still on the mend more than two months after the incident.
Witnesses called the shooting unjustified and said that Pettigrew appeared "stone-faced" throughout.