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Jury Sides With Dog Owner in Suit

December 30, 1998

RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) _ A jury awarded $255,000 to the owner of a dog that was killed by police. The city is considering appealing the judgment.

The city’s lawyer, Austin Gibson, said it was the largest jury verdict he could find in a dog killing.

``I don’t want to tick off the animal lovers, but this is two steps short of ridiculous,″ City Manager Isiah Turner said Tuesday.

Dog owner James Fuller Sr. said the suit could have been avoided if police had simply said ``We’re sorry″ for the death of 12-year-old Champ.

Champ was shot in 1991 when two policemen looking for a car thief walked past Fuller’s yard with their guns drawn.

Fuller said Champ, an obedient, friendly and arthritic dog, did nothing more than stand.

Officer Keith Vine said he fired when the dog rushed at him, barking and growling.

A federal court jury found Dec. 18 that police had seized Fuller’s property _ Champ _ in violation of the constitutional ban on unreasonable seizures.

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