Owners may file civil suit in shooting of husky at dog park

Police still investigating Bear-Bear's killing by off-duty federal officer

August 09, 2010|By Raven L. Hill, The Baltimore Sun

The owners of the Siberian husky shot to death by an off-duty federal police officer last week at a Severn dog park have retained an Annapolis attorney to explore a possible lawsuit.

Charlotte Weinstein, hired last week by Rachel and Ryan Keegan Rettaliata, is looking into negligence by the officer in the Aug. 2 shooting of the dog, named Bear-Bear.

"We're just conducting our investigation and making sure that county police did what they were supposed to do from the very beginning, and determining whether the gentleman had the authority to carry a gun," Weinstein said.

Anne Arundel County police, who closed and then reopened the case last week after a public outcry, said Friday that further investigation had revealed that the officer's legal authority to carry a firearm was "questionable."

The department has not named the officer, who they said fired his personal weapon in the shooting.

The officer's attorney said he is confident the police investigation will show that his client was in lawful possession of the gun.

"I don't blame authorities for wanting to make sure," attorney David Putzi said, "but I'm confident at this point that the information we provided show that he was lawfully able to carry."

Putzi said the officer is cooperating with police and has provided documentation to show that he's allowed to carry a concealed weapon.

Putzi said he hopes the investigation will be concluded by Wednesday night.

"I don't think there will be anything more to come out," he said.

In the meantime, the Rettaliatas are waiting on a final accounting of the dog's medical expenses, which included emergency surgery, Weinstein said.

Anne Arundel police spokesman Justin Mulcahy said Monday that there was "no new information" regarding the investigation.

According to the report, Ryan Rettaliata's brother-in-law was walking Bear-Bear in the private Quail Run Community Dog Park. The officer, a 32-year-old sergeant in the Army Reserve who works as a federal police officer at Fort Myer, Va., and his wife told police they were at the park with their leashed German shepherd, Asia, when Bear-Bear approached.

The officer said the dogs started to sniff each other, and then the husky became aggressive. He told police that he yelled at Stephen Ryan Kurinij to remove Bear-Bear. The officer said that when he attempted to pull his dog away, the husky began to "grit his teeth and bite his dog around his neck," according to the report.

The officer then shot the dog once with his Glock 9 mm pistol.

Kurinij told police that "Bear and Asia seemed to be getting along," and that "Bear is a friendly dog and has never had any problems at the dog park."

rlhill@baltsun.com

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