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Lawsuit Over Puppy Shot By Cop Moving To Federal Court

CHICAGO (STMW) -- A lawsuit a North Side couple filed against the city and a police officer who allegedly shot their puppy earlier this month is moving to federal court.

Plaintiffs Al Phillips and Barbara Phillips filed the original suit Dec. 4 in Cook County Circuit Court.

In it, they claim their miniature bull terrier puppy followed Al Phillips outside on Dec. 1, after he saw a police officer writing him a parking ticket about 3 p.m. outside his home in the 800 block of West Buena Avenue, according to the suit.

He claims the officer shot at the 7-month-old pup, named Colonel Phillips, two times even though the animal was "acting with pleasant nature with his tail wagging," the suit said.

The dog ran off, and neighbors found Colonel Phillips "cowering and shaking" in the bushes nearby with injuries from either shrapnel or a ricocheted bullet, the suit said.

Lawyers for the city filed a request Wednesday to move the suit to U.S. District Court because allegations within it claim violations of the plaintiff's constitutional rights, as well as state law violations.

Chicago Police have deferred all comment on the incident to the Independent Police Review Authority, whose spokesman confirmed the agency is investigating an incident in which an officer shot a dog.

The Phillips also claim in the lawsuit that two police officers -- apparently a sergeant and a lieutenant -- stopped by their house two days later and told them they "should let this matter got and not push it any further" after spotting saw a television news crew at their home.

When Al Phillips said he would pursue the matter, police wrote them a ticket for having the dog off the leash two days before, according to the suit.

The family calls the officer's actions "excessive" and "objectively unreasonable" because the puppy posed no threat, according to the original suit.

Colonel Phillips, who weighs less than 30 pounds, comes from a line of championship show dogs, the family claims. Before he was injured, they had hoped to groom him into a show dog as well, the suit says.

The seven-count suit claims excessive force, illegal seizure, violations of their right to due process and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Phillips also claim police retaliated against them for exercising their right to free speech, in speaking to the news crew.

The suit claims at least $350,000 in damages and seeks to hold the city responsible for the officers' actions.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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