While D.C. might be pondering more recent dog shootings, one that occurred in 2009 left a 12-year-old Petworth boy and his dog injured, and has inspired an $8 million lawsuit against the District. The lawsuit has been quietly chugging along since 2010, and names the Metropolitan Police Department and an officer named Ricardo Leiva as defendants.
Filed by Lashwan English, the boy’s mother, the suit alleges that on the afternoon of May 4, 2009, Leiva ordered the child to the ground and shot his pet. A bullet fragment from the gunshot hit the youth in the head, and he had to go to the hospital, where he was treated and released.
English’s lawyer Kenneth Trombly says that right before the incident, the youngster was running down an alley behind his house because his dog, Boss, escaped the yard. The juvenile happened to be carrying a toy gun. That’s what might have prompted Leiva to command him to get on the ground when he spotted him. The cop claimed he shot the dog because it lunged at him, but Trombly says he can produce an eyewitness at trial who will testify that’s not true. The dog was “docile,” he says. Boss survived the shooting.
A call placed to a city lawyer tasked with defending against the suit wasn’t returned, and it’s not clear whether Leiva is still with MPD. English’s son is now 14, and doing well. Trombly says that “very fortunately,” there was no brain injury: “He’s a pretty together kid, and he was always a good student, and continues to be.” But that doesn’t mean he’s completely O.K., Trombly notes. He still has the traumatic memories to deal with.
“The District from the beginning has denied any responsibility,” says Trombly of why his client decided to pursue justice through civil court. Trombly explains that $8 million in damages is just a figure he and his client came up with due to the fact that they’re required to list an amount in the case. He says a jury will never see that figure, and would decide how much English is owed for themselves. According to court records, the case has a mediation session scheduled for May 4.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery