Wheat Ridge, Colo - Lawyers with The Animal Law Center announced that today they filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of their client Gary Branson against the City of Commerce City and Officers Robert Price, Arica Bores, and Christopher Castillo in Colorado Federal District Court. The lawsuit stems from the police shooting death of Branson’s therapy dog named Chloe on November 24, 2012.
“It’s very important that we pursue justice for Chloe and Gary,” said Jennifer Edwards, attorney and founder of The Animal Law Center. “Last month’s not guilty verdict for Officer Price on animal cruelty charges was a shock, especially given that video evidence of the incident shows Chloe trying to flee and not acting aggressively toward officers. We have to correct this travesty.”
A few days before Thanksgiving in 2012, Gary Branson left Chloe in the care of his cousin - a resident of Commerce City - while he traveled to California to visit family. On November 24th, police were called to the cousin’s neighborhood on a report of a loose dog seen in the area. The dog that neighbors had seen was Chloe, who had wandered away from the cousin’s house after the garage door was accidentally left open. After officers found Chloe and were unable to locate her owners, they chose to take extreme and cruel action despite other options readily available. After being tased twice, Chloe was caught on a snare pole and Officer Price then fired five shots at the dog, killing her. Price and the other officers falsely said in their incident reports that the dog was acting aggressively toward them and others on scene.
The incident was captured on amateur video, which went viral online, and showed officers tasing and then snaring Chloe while she cowered and attempted to escape. After viewing the video, animal behaviorists said that Chloe was not aggressive but clearly fearful and trying to flee the situation. Further evidence was discovered in a necropsy performed on the animal confirming that the officers made false reports.
Last month the Adams County District Attorney tried Officer Price on charges of animal cruelty, but the jury found him not guilty due in part to a choice-of-evils defense offered at the time.
The civil lawsuit now filed is intended to rectify the wrong that was done. Fourth Amendment violations among other civil rights actions will be sought for the willful and wanton conduct and wrongful killing of Chloe by the officers that day.
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