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Civil Rights

City ordered to pay $50K in attorney fees in case over police shooting of family’s pet dog

Posted Apr 24, 2013 10:38 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A small city in Washington state has been ordered by a federal judge to pay $50,000 in attorney's fees to the prevailing plaintiffs in a federal civil rights suit over the fatal police shooting of their pet dog.

Charles and Deirdre Wright had earlier settled with the city of Des Moines for $51,000. Their suit had contended that city police department violated both department police and the couple's Fourth Amendment right to be secure in their persons and effects by shooting their 3-year-old Newfoundland, Rosie.
the Seattle Times reports.

The dog had escaped from the family's yard but wasn't acting aggressively when she was killed, her owners contend.

"Rosie was an effect, and a special one that cannot be replaced," attorney Adam Karp of Bellingham, who represents the plaintiffs, previously told the Seattle Times. He said the police should have attempted to reach the Wrights, whose phone numbers were listed on a registration filed with the police department, before killing their pet.

Des Moines had argued that the attorney's fee award should be reduced in the Western District of Washington case, on two grounds: First, private donations made to the family to help with legal costs should be deducted. Second, legal fees related to a legal battle by the Wrights, before they filed the civil suit, seeking criminal charges against the officers should also be deducted, the Times reported.

U.S. District Judge James Robart not only disagreed with both arguments but rebuked the city's counsel for making "ridiculous" arguments in written material filed with the court.and characterizing the Wrights' apparently unsuccessful efforts to get the officers criminally charged as "persecution."

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Couple Makes Federal Case Out of Death of Pet Chased and Killed by Police"

ABAJournal.com: "Town to pay $51K to settle federal suit over police shooting of dog"

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