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Dog owners seek $350,000 in ‘Brad Pitt’ killing

The owners of a dog shot to death by a Riverside police officer have sued the city for $350,000, writing that that the killing of Brad Pitt the pit bull was “so extreme and outrageous that it went beyond the bounds of decency.”
Lindsey Gonzalez-Rivera and husband Luis Rivera are seeking $150,000 each, plus punitive damages of $50,000 from Officer Ryan Wilson, and unspecified attorney’s fees. Police Chief Sergio Diaz and the Police Department were also named as defendants in the lawsuit filed March 28 in Superior Court in Riverside.
The City Council rejected a claim for $75,000 in September. City Attorney Greg Priamos declined to comment Thursday, April 18, other than to say, “We intend to defend the lawsuit.”
Police on Aug. 23 were serving an arrest warrant on a murder suspect on North Orange Street. Officers were deployed around the area in case the suspect fled, and Wilson was assigned to take up a spot in the Riveras’ backyard two doors down from the suspect’s house.
Accounts of what happened next differ.
Police said Wilson entered the backyard, and he was surprised, cornered and attacked by the dog. That’s when Wilson shot the dog.
The lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles-based attorney Nick Pacheco, says that when Wilson approached the chain-link gate to enter the yard, the dog barked at Wilson from inside the yard. Wilson fired one shot through the gate and into the dog’s head, the lawsuit says.
Riverside police officers are allowed to shoot animals “To kill a dangerous animal that is attacking the officer or another person(s), or which if allowed to escape, presents a danger to the public,” the department’s use-of-force policy states.
“The dog was not a dangerous animal attacking defendant Wilson or any other person, nor did Brad Pitt present a danger to the public since he was locked up in his own backyard,” the lawsuit says. “Plaintiffs have suffered grief, anguish, shock and horror as a result of defendant Wilson’s intentional act of killing their pet, Brad Pitt.”
The dog’s owners are seeking compensation for pain and suffering, and medical and psychological expenses.
Their dog provided “solace, affection, friendship and love for the period of his life. Brad Pitt maintained a special relationship with plaintiffs, situationally and emotionally similar to that of a human family member or relative,” the lawsuit says. “The manner in which Wilson shot Brad Pitt was so extreme and outrageous that it went beyond the bounds of decency.”