By an 8-1 vote at the Sept. 25 City Council meeting, aldermen approved a $50,000 settlement of the federal case Trinette Lark, et al. v. City of Evanston, et al. Plaintiffs Ms. Lark and her adult children, Bria Deaz and Prince Ford, sued the City after an Evanston police officer shot and killed their pet German shepherd during the police response to a domestic violence call.
Information from the complaint, the City’s response to the complaint, and police files indicate the following scenario: In April 2015, Ms. Lark called police to her home in the 2000 block of Darrow Avenue to break up an argument between her live-in boyfriend and one of her children. When the police arrived, she told them the argument was over and the boyfriend had left. As some of the police officers continued to question the family, one officer began to search the basement apartment, as some family members indicated the offender might have gone there. The police officer’s encounter with the German shepherd led to his firing five shots at the dog, from which it eventually died.
One of the allegations in the complaint was that police officers detained the family for questioning while the dog was still alive, so they listened to the wounded animal. The police report filed by Police Officer Daniel Rosenbaum says of the incident, “Officers advised multiple times that the dog was still alive and any of the individuals on scene could transport the dog to an animal hospital; otherwise, they would need to wait for an animal warden. Ms. Lark, Ms. Deaz, and Mr. Ford refused each time to transport the animal for emergency treatment on their own. The animal warden then responded and removed the dog from the scene.”
The City had filed a motion to dismiss but did not prevail on several of the claims alleged by Ms. Lark. When the matter came before Council, only Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, voted against the settlement.
Asked by email the reason for her vote, Ald. Rainey wrote, “I tried to put myself in the officer’s shoes. One of the things that I know is that you get a call about a domestic disturbance and then you’re told that there’s no problem when you arrive at the site – that might not be the case.
“Open the basement door, dog jumps out at you in the dark, next thing you expect is the perpetrator is hiding down there with a gun. One thing you wouldn’t expect is the family dog tied up in the dark basement.
“Horrible way for a dog tied up in a basement to end his life.
“I could not possibly vote to pay $50,000 when our police officers were doing their job.”