Wednesday, January 30, 2008

SF Police Suspend Tiger Attack Probe

SF Police Suspend Tiger Attack Probe
 
By MARCUS WOHLSEN – 21 hours ago
 
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Police have suspended their investigation into the tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo that killed a teenager as they wait for new witnesses or evidence to emerge.
 
The investigation has been put on hold "pending new witnesses being interviewed and/or new evidence being produced," city police said in a statement Tuesday. No criminal charges have been filed.
 
An escaped 250-pound Siberian tiger fatally mauled 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and wounded his friends, brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal, after apparently climbing or leaping from its enclosure Dec. 25.
 
"We didn't have, obviously, enough to move forward with anything," said San Francisco police Inspector Valerie Matthews, lead investigator.
 
Police were not actively pursuing new leads but have not closed the investigation in case new information arises, Matthews said. Police will probably decide in late February whether a probe should continue.
 
Investigators have not brought prosecutors any investigation results or recommended any charges, said Erica Terry Derryck, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.
 
Police said in court documents that they believed the attack was in part triggered by the victims provoking the animal. They did not specify what, if any, crimes they thought had been committed.
 
Matthews declined to detail the nature of the potential crimes police were investigating.
A search warrant affidavit filed Jan. 17 said the victims had marijuana in their systems, and toxicology results showed the blood alcohol level for Paul Dhaliwal, 19, was 0.16 percent — twice the legal limit for driving.
 
His 24-year-old brother and Sousa also had alcohol in their blood, but within the legal driving limit, Matthews wrote.
 
Mark Geragos, an attorney for the Dhaliwal brothers, said Tuesday he believed the city had pressured police to unnecessarily prolong their investigation as part of a "smear campaign" against his clients. Geragos said they had done nothing wrong.
 
A police spokesman declined to comment on whether the department had been pressured.
Michael Cardoza, a lawyer for Sousa's parents, said that he does not understand why police would pause the investigation instead of closing it for good.
 
"They have had plenty of time to bring this case to an investigative conclusion," Cardoza said.
 
 
 



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