UPTOWN — A bigger crowd than usual showed up at a CAPS meeting in Uptown Thursday night, demanding answers from police about the shooting of local pup named Colonel by an officer who was writing the miniature bull terrier's owner a ticket outside his home last Saturday.
The meeting was held at the Uptown Library, 929 W. Buena Ave., just a few blocks from where the dog was shot. Colonel's owners, Barbara and Al Phillips, were in attendance with their legal team and several witnesses to the shooting. At least 50 people were there.
Chicago Police Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris, in an attempt to break the ice at the start of the meeting, acknowledged that residents were "not going to like what I say, but unfortunately, there's not a lot I can say about it."
Voulgaris repeated much of what police have already said — that the shooting did in fact happen, but that the incident is under investigation. He would not release any information about the officer in question and asked the community not to jump to conclusions.
"We have to give the officer a chance," Voulgaris said. "I cannot think of any officer who would relish shooting a dog. The officer felt that that force was necessary."
One attendee yelled out, "The dog is a puppy!"
Several neighbors said that they wanted the officer, named in a lawsuit against the city as Brandon Pettigrew, suspended or fired.
Voulgaris confirmed that the officer was "still on the streets," which sparked groans from some people in the crowd.
Residents also blasted the 19th Chicago Police District's handling of the shooting, including allegations that two district officials tried to intimidate Barbara and Al Phillips after they spoke to DNAinfo.com and other media outlets.
"It's like I don't have the right to fight back," dog owner Becky Blair said.
Voulgaris said some people on news websites and blogs are using the shooting to bash the police.
Most residents wanted to know why the shooting happened.
Neighbors asked if pepper-spraying the dog would have been an option, and Voulgaris acknowledged that is one of the tools officers have, but that the officer used the force he deemed necessary.
The commander said he was "sorry that a dog was injured," but said the officer "felt he was going to be attacked."
One dog owner asked Voulgaris how she and others could make sure the same thing didn't happen to their dogs, if something like this could happen to a 20-pound, 7-month-old puppy wagging its tail.
His advice? "Follow the rules; keep your dog leashed."
Blair, 38, lives in the area and said she hoped to get more answers from police.
"I think there was an opportunity to address the shooting, to address what the protocol should have been," she said. "I think an opportunity was missed."
Colonel was back in the hospital Thursday morning after he started shaking and bleeding at home Wednesday night, his owner said. The Phillipses are suing the city and officer for damages related to the shooting and the visit by officers allegedly concerned about media coverage of the shooting.