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The Case of Rosie the Newfoundland Ending with $51,000 Civil Settlement

Memorial where Rosie the Newfoundland was shot on Nov. 7, 2010.

by Ralph Nichols [1]

The heartbreaking saga of Rosie the Newfoundland is almost over.

Bellingham-based animal rights attorney Adam Karp announced Feb. 20 that the City of Des Moines and two police officers responsible for killing Rosie have offered to settle claims against them for $51,000 plus costs and attorneys’ fees.

As many of our Readers may recall (read our previous coverage here [2]), on Nov. 7, 2010, Rosie was reported loose on a residential street to Des Moines Police.

Jan Magnuson, the city’s animal control officer, was off duty that day so four police officers, including Sgt. Steve Wieland and Officer Michael Graddon, were dispatched to that location.

After chasing and yelling at Rosie, then trying to Taser her, Wieland and Graddon followed the fleeing dog into a back yard, where she was shot and killed while cowering in blackberry brambles.

The Wrights, who were not home at the time, did not learn from the police department for two days what had happened to Rosie.

After separate investigations by the city, the King County Prosecutors Office, and Pierce County Animal Control, no charges were filed against the two officers.

The shooting was considered justified because they were acting within department procedures at the time.

Nevertheless, flaws in the city’s animal control response were noted – especially when Magnuson was off duty – and changes in training and protocols were made.

None of this could console the Wrights for the loss of their dog, nor did it satisfy their need for justice and compensation for that loss.

So in January 2011, Karp filed a motion in Des Moines Municipal Court seeking to bring misdemeanor animal cruelty charges against Graddon, who fired the shots, and Wieland, who ordered the shooting. They claimed that Rosie appeared to be a dangerous animal.

This case eventually was transferred to Snohomish County Municipal Court, where it was dismissed that summer. Karp appealed to Superior Court there, but the case again was dismissed – on a technicality – in 2012.

Last December, he filed a civil complaint against the City of Des Moines, Wieland and Graddon in U.S. District Court, seeking monetary damages for the Wrights.

“Graddon and Wieland offered to confess judgment against them in the sum of $51,000,” Karp announced Tuesday.

The Wrights have accepted this offer but the case will not be finalized until the court assesses reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Karp called the settlement “an exceptional award,” noting it is the largest award ever in an animal rights case in Washington state.

The Wrights will not comment until after the court assesses costs and attorneys’ fees, for which they are seeking at least $90,000.

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