Rosie the Newfoundland was a beloved member of the Wright family. True to her breed, she was a gentle giant who loved everyone she met. But on November 7, 2010, Rosie met a tragic and untimely death. Just outside of her Des Moines, WA home, Rosie was shot to death by the very police who were hired to keep her city safe. Click here to read the original story. A civil claim totaling $600,000 has now been filed by her owners, Charles and Deirdre Wright.
Named in the action are the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Police Department, Des Moines Police Officer Michael Graddon, who fired the shots; and Sergeant Steven Weiland, who issued the order to kill Rosie.
According to the Prosecuting Attorney’s report, Rosie was in a resident’s backyard at the time of the fatal shooting. During her ordeal, Rosie was pursued, tazed, shot, and ultimately killed by Des Moines police officers as she cowered in blackberry bushes in a backyard near her home. The police were responding to an earlier report of a loose dog on a city street. While the Prosecuting Attorney’s report states that the residents were apparently warned to go into their home prior to the shooting, the residents who witnessed Rosie’s killing tell a different story. The homeowner was not given sufficient warning to go into the home, as the police and the report state; they were barely able to get into their home with one of their children before the police opened fire. The homeowner closed her eyes and covered her ears in an attempt to avoid witnessing the brutal killing of Rosie.
Rosie’s owners, Charles and Deirdre Wright, filed individual wrongful death claims of $300,000 each with the city. They are seeking compensation for the “intrinsic value of Rosie, loss of use of Rosie, emotional distress, wage loss,” and special medical costs. Animal rights attorney Adam Karp filed the action and is seeking punitive damages and reasonable attorney’s fees. Karp filed a petition in 2011 asking the Des Moines Municipal Court Judge Veronica Alicea-Galvan to file misdemeanor animal cruelty charges against Graddon and Weiland.
Alicea-Galvan recused herself at the initial hearing and the case was referred to King County District Court and then to Pierce County District Court. All judges of each court also recused themselves and the case was transferred to Snohomish County. In June, 2011, The case came before Snohomish County District Court Judge Tam T. Bui.
After receiving briefs and hearing oral arguments, Judge Bui denied Karp’s motion in September, 2011.
“After a careful review, this Court is not satisfied that probable cause exists to charge the officers for the killing of Rosie,” Bui stated said in her ruling.
Karp appealed Bui’s decision to Snohomish County Superior Court, where Judge Richard T. Okrent dismissed the case on March 9. Judge Okrent ruled at the end of a one-hour hearing that the statute of limitations in this case had expired, leaving him with no choice but to dismiss the case. Karp said at that time that he would file a civil claim for monetary damages against Graddon and Weiland.
In filing their claim against the city, the police, and the two officers, Karp also alleged that after the Wrights began their legal action, they were stalked and under surveillance by the police department.
“Such stalking and surveillance by DMPD has caused additional mental anxiety to the Wrights, for which they also seek damages,” Karp stated. “At the time that she died, Rosie was three years old, trained, and did not have a fair market or replacement value. Instead, she had a unique value, also known as intrinsic value, to her owner/guardians.”
He added that the law allows recovery of damages for the loss of Rosie, for emotional distress, for lost wages, and for related medical costs.
The City of Des Moines has now received notices of claim filed on behalf of Deirdre and Charles Wright. The City has 60 days from the time of receipt to respond to these notices of claim. “If the matter does not resolve in that time, the Wrights can and will file suit,” Karp explained. This is expected to happen before the anniversary of Rosie’s death which is November 7th.
Please continue to visit the website for future updates on this case.