Police Chief Fong named in tiger-mauling lawsuit
By: Tamara Barak Aparton05/19/09 10:58 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO — The two brothers who survived a fatal tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo have added outgoing police Chief Heather Fong and a department captain to their 2008 federal lawsuit against The City, the zoo and the Police Department.
Brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal are suing both Fong and a second Police Department official, identified in court papers as “Captain Williams,” for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
According to the lawsuit, Fong and Williams intimidated the brothers by threatening to arrest them for manslaughter in the death of their childhood best friend, Carlos Sousa Jr., who was killed Dec. 25, 2007, when a Siberian tiger escaped her grotto and attacked him and the Dhaliwals.
The brothers are also suing Fong for allegedly ordering police to search their car illegally.
Mark Geragos, attorney for the brothers, said Tuesday that he amended the lawsuit to include Fong and Williams after seeing documents proving their involvement.
“We now have confirmation of what we suspected was going on,” Geragos said. “Police were used in this case in an effort to shield the zoo.”
Geragos plans to order sworn testimony from Fong in June.
Matt Dorsey, spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, called Geragos’ questioning of the police investigation “a sideshow.”
Naming Fong in the complaint “just puts an issue Geragos has repeatedly raised in the press into court proceedings,” Dorsey said. “The investigation was lawful and appropriate. The car was in police custody because of a court order.”
Sam Singer, a public-relations representative hired by the zoo in the aftermath of the attack, is also named in the lawsuit. The Dhaliwals claim Singer muddied their reputations by making false statements to the press.
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