BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Maryland family whose dog was fatally shot by police is having to relive the ordeal all over again. On Friday, the family learned a judge slashed more than $1 million dollars they were initially awarded in court.
WJZ reporter George Solis spoke with a member of the Reeves family who now lives in California who says the news is tough to hear. Their attorney says this case is far from over.
$1.26 million was awarded to the Reeves family from Glen Burnie after an Anne Arundel County jury found that a rookie cop was negligent and violated the family’s constitutional rights in his shooting of the family’s Chesapeake Bay retriever named Vernon.
It was called one of the largest payouts ever involving the shooting death of a pet.
Officer Rodney Price said he acted in self-defense after Vernon attacked him while he was on the Reeves’ property investigating a burglary in the neighborhood.
The family spoke to WJZ days after the shooting back in 2014.
“He said I’m really really sorry I just had to shoot him and I’m like you didn’t have to,” said owner Mike Reeves.
On Friday, the family experienced loss for the second time after an Anne Arundel County judge cut that million dollar reward to a little more than $200,000 dollars.
The family’s attorney explained the reason for the dramatic decrease in damages.
“What we’re seeing here is the impact of an incredibly unfair state law. In Maryland, the legislature in the 80’s decided to cap claims against the government at $200,000,” says Reeves family attorney Cary Hansel.
Cary Hansel tells WJZ cap or not, the case is far from over.
“A jury here spoke and it’s being ignored,” he says.
The Reeves attorney says this case has never really been about the money but more so about seeking justice for Vernon
According to the capitol gazette, in a memo to the county judge, the county attorney wrote that the verdict is “plainly excessive and shocks the conscience” and the evidence neither “supported the idea price acted in gross negligence nor that the award amount was accurate.”
In a statement to WJZ, the deputy county attorney says the county and the officer are still considering their appeal options going forward.
The Reeves attorney says there will be another trial in the case in the coming days.