Dog's owners suing over shooting by cop
City of Champaign named as defendant
CHAMPAIGN — The owners of a dog shot and killed by a Champaign police officer last year filed suit against the city on Friday.
In the lawsuit, Kathy and Jake Saathoff and Kelsey Markou say they are entitled to damages for the "illegal seizure" of their dog when it was shot and killed by Officer Andre Davis and for the emotional distress it inflicted on them.
But it's not about the money, Kathy Saathoff said on Friday. They just want the situation addressed properly.
"We really didn't want to get to this point, but we felt they treated us unfairly," she said.
Davis had been suspended without pay for one day following the incident, during which a bullet also went through a first-floor apartment of a nearby apartment building. Nobody was hurt.
Davis was a patrol officer on Nov. 17, 2012, when he reacted to two dogs fighting at Crescent and John streets in the evening by drawing his weapon and firing. Police reports — obtained earlier under the Freedom of Information Act — revealed he fired seven shots at the dogs, killing the Saathoffs' family pet as their teenage daughter, Markou, watched.
She had been walking their Labrador retriever, which was on a leash, when an unleashed pit bull terrier approached and began fighting with it. Police were called when she and another man were unable to separate the animals.
Kathy Saathoff said she had been directed to speak with Larry Krause, the city's risk manager, to address the situation. She said they spoke in January, but then he never got back to her, and her attempts to contact other city officials have also been ignored.
"They refuse to be accountable for the action of the police officer," Saathoff said.
The ideal outcome, she said, would be to force some action to ensure a similar situation does not happen to anyone else in the future.
Krause could not be reached for comment after business hours on Friday evening, but he told The News-Gazette in April he was still working on a figure to compensate the Saathoffs.
It is the city's policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Saathoff said it is not about compensation.
"We don't have a number," she said. "We're just trying to make a point."