UPDATED 04/18/12 – 5:02 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — It turns out the man who walked off after his pit bull mauled a tiny dog to death was a Chicago Police officer. That officer has been ticketed and relieved of his police powers while the department investigates his actions.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports, the attack happened at the Montrose Beach dog park during the early spring heat wave on St. Patrick’s Day.
Audrey Fisher and her 12-year-old daughter, Fayla Rodriguez, took Willy, their 2 1/2-year-old Pomeranian Papillon mix, to the dog beach so he could play with his favorite pink ball. But another dog owner’s pit bull wanted that ball, and attacked the 8-pound dog.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
“A pit bull came out of nowhere and just attacked him, grabbed him by his belly and shook him violently,” Fisher said last month.
Willy died three days later. Afterward, Fisher was left with a $5,700 vet bill, because the owner of the pit bull refused to identify himself and left the beach. Park District rules stipulate owners of dogs that attack other animals at dog parks must foot the vet bills, and Fisher hopes to have the pit bull’s owner held financially responsible.
The owner, a Chicago Police officer, turned himself in Tuesday night. The five-year Chicago Police veteran told police about his involvement, and the police Animal Crimes Team ticketed the officer for not making notification within 24 hours after an animal has bitten another domestic animal, according to a police News Affairs statement. The officer’s name has not been released.
“I’ve been just devoted to finding this guy,” Fisher said Wednesday.
The officer has been relieved of police power until the completion of an Internal Affairs investigation.
“The Chicago Police Department expects its members to demonstrate the highest standards of conduct on and off duty and will not permit wrongdoing to go unaddressed,” police said in a statement.
Witnesses were able to get a photo of the pit bull’s owner after the attack and Fisher tried to get more information from him, but he wouldn’t talk.
“I asked him for his information. I asked him for his name. I asked him for, you know, ‘Can you write down your number, so I can contact you?’” Fisher said. “He didn’t give me anything.”
Fisher has been handing out flyers with the man’s photo and working with police to track down the man whose dog killed her pet.
Dozens of witnesses posted accounts of the incident, and the culprit’s photo, on MonDog.org, run by the Chicago Park District’s community group partner overseeing the dog park.
Another witness said he talked with the pit bull owner, and that the owner just said, “the other dog started it.”
“He showed zero remorse and was walking around calmly chatting with others who were unaware of what had happened. It seemed obvious that this was ‘normal’ behavior for his dog and him,” the witness said on MonDog.org.
She said the entire affair has been emotionally draining.
“One Saturday afternoon, I went into the city three times,” she said. “They thought they had him, and I went and identified someone who wasn’t even him.”
Tuesday night, Audrey got a call that the man in the photo turned himself in to police, and notifying her that he is also a police officer.
Asked for her reaction to the knowledge the man who owns the dog who killed Willy is a cop, Fisher said, “It scares me. That was my first reaction, was fear. … because I would not expect that kind of behavior from a Chicago police, or a cop of any kind.”
Police would not comment beyond saying the officer has been relieved of his police powers, pending the internal investigation. The Fraternal Order of Police said they also won’t comment until the investigation is over.