Pair who survived tiger attack reportedly withholding photos from police
By Linda Goldston
Article Launched: 01/04/2008 04:47:19 PM PST
Two San Jose brothers mauled by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day have refused to allow police to examine their cell phones for possible text messages or photos believed taken the day of tiger Tatiana’s escape.
In a letter sent today to the brothers’ attorney, celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera asked that Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal preserve “this potentially critical evidence.”
“The digital content of your clients’ cell phones, which we understand are currently in the possession of the police, may help reconstruct what happened at the tiger exhibit and cafe,” Herrera wrote.
Geragos did not return a phone call from the Mercury News.
He told the Mercury News earlier this week that news reports of his clients taunting the Siberian tiger before she escaped from her grotto were not true. A friend of the Dhaliwals’, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. of San Jose, was fatally mauled when the tiger escaped.
Sousa had tried to distract the tiger when she attacked one of the brothers. After Sousa was fatally mauled, the brothers ran to the zoo cafe. Police shot and killed the tiger.
The brothers have refused to speak publicly – or to Sousa’s parents – about the incident. For police and city officials to examine the cell phones, they would need a warrant. To obtain the warrant, they would need to show probable cause.
“In the interests of getting to the real facts of this tragedy, we propose a simultaneous inspection of the car and cell phones by experts retained by your clients and the City Attorney’s Office,” Herrera wrote in his letter to Geragos.
The city attorney also noted “there have also been reports that there is evidence in your clients’ car of possible alcohol consumption.” San Francisco Police Sgt. Steve Mannina confirmed this week that a vodka bottle was in the Dhaliwals’ car.
Herrera aid the inspection of the car and cell phones should take place “at the time the property is released by the SFPD and before you or your client take custody of it.”
After the mauling, the area was declared a crime scene by police.
The zoo reopened Thursday for the first day since the mauling but was closed today because of the strong storm that battered the Bay Area.
Zoo employees had to clear several downed trees and other debris from the zoo grounds.
“Our zoo keepers went immediately into action, securing the animals, getting them into their night enclosures,” said Lora LaMarca, spokeswoman for the zoo.
LaMarca said the rhinos and kangaroos refused to go inside and were allowed to remain out in the rain. “A rhino does what it wants to do,” she said.
The zoo lost power at 8 a.m. and had not had it restored by late afternoon.
“We’re just cleaning up all the debris and hope to reopen tomorrow,” LaMarca said.
The zoo’s big cats remained inside the lion house, where there are two very large cages, she said. Zoo keepers were paying more attention to all of them but especially to Tony, the 15 1/2 year former companion of Tatiana, the Siberian tiger that was shot on Christmas Day.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” LaMarca said.
The zoo has not decided if it will seek another companion tiger for Tony.
For The Tiger
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