Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
With one day left before the expiration of a three year filing deadline, attorneys Hector Pineiro and Robert Beadel have submitted a civil lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Dana Sneade, Elijah Williamson and Sharde Russell over an incident in March of 2008 when (former) officer Mark Rojas, called in to remove an intoxicated person from a Vale St. home, shot and killed a family dog.
In a lengthy statement of fact section, the attorneys charge that by killing “Bruno,” an 85 pound boxer-chow mix, Rojas violated the family’s fourth amendment rights, equating destruction of property to a “seizure of property,” and calling Rojas’ discharge of his gun in their home as “dangerous,” “unjustified” and “excessive.” The plaintiffs argue that their 14th amendment rights were violated when Rojas later accessed Sneade’s CORI and provided it to her employer (leading to her termination) and allegedly made false statements to the Department of Social Services with the intent of intimidating her.
Chief of Police Gary Gemme and City Manager Michael O’Brien are named as defendants as well, with the plaintiffs arguing that they did not adequately discipline Rojas for past transgressions. In the court document, the lawyers argue that “failing to enforce control and accountability for officers’ use of force or improper use of CORI information was in whole or in part the moving force behind the incidents of misconduct described.”
In 2008 Telegram articles related to this incident, a WPD Internal Affairs investigation cleared Rojas of wrongdoing in the shooting of Bruno, and a WPD spokesman told the paper that officers are often attacked by “uncontrolled animals” and that Rojas felt he was in “clear and immediate danger.”
Rojas already has another federal court case pending in regards to a 2006 altercation with then 25-year-old Katie Warren (who, as of last April, was being represented by Pineiro).
The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, injunctive relief, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and any other “relief as the court deems just and proper.” They’re also asking all the defendants be held “joint[ly] and severally liable.”