CHICAGO (CBS) — A family from south suburban Steger is suing a Chicago police officer, claiming he failed to restrain his pit bull, which killed the family’s Pomeranian mix at Montrose Beach in March.
The lawsuit seeks $250,000 in damages from Chicago Police Officer Matthew Bracken.
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 on St. Patrick’s Day 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.
“A pit bull came out of nowhere and just attacked him, grabbed him by his belly and shook him violently,” Fisher said in an interview with CBS 2 after the attack.
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According to the family’s lawsuit filed in Cook County on Tuesday, Bracken’s pit bull repeatedly attacked Willy, biting down on his stomach and shaking him.
The family’s attorney, Manotti Jenkins, said the police officer at first yelled at a bystander for trying to stop the attack, “apparently more concerned about the fact that a bystander was attempting to remove his dog from the plaintiff’s dog. He used profanity. When the plaintiff was attempting to get her dog to medical attention, the defendant showed no remorse.”
Willy died three days later.
“They had the dog for about two-and-a-half years. It was a small dog. The dog was very close to them. It had become a part of their family,” Jenkins said. “They spent a lot of time with the dog in the house, allowed the dog to sleep in the bed with them; spent a lot of their free time out at the park.”
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. Chicago 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.
Jenkins said Officer Bracken did not restrain his pit bull, did not show remorse, and did not take responsibility.
He allegedly left the beach after the attack, and the family spent weeks trying to track him down.
On April 17, police said the officer turned himself in and told police about his involvement in the attack at Montrose Beach. Without naming him publicly at the time, 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.
He was also relieved of his police powers, pending an Internal Affairs investigation.
Bracken could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit.