Philly Police Cruiser Kills Dog, Devastated Owner Seeks Answers

Sidara Son's dog Phoebe was run over by a police vehicle in an incident she feels could have been avoided.

Photos via Facebook

Photos via Facebook

Sidara Son, who lives with her father in Olney, got her dog Phoebe (above) for her birthday a couple years ago when the dog was just a puppy.

“A few years back I had surgery,” Son says. “I had my ovaries removed and my fallopian tubes removed so I wasn’t able to have kids. People who know me know that I love dogs, so my friend gave [the puppy] to me as a gift, and since then Phoebe has always been my baby.”

Son bought the dog toys and clothes and doted on her like a child. And she took her everywhere. “We did everything together. We went camping together, we went fishing together, we went to the beach together — there was never a moment that I left her. She woke up with me, she went to sleep with me, and every morning I would tell her that she was my sunshine baby. She was my only happiness.”

That happiness was interrupted on August 9th.

That night friends were visiting Son on the 5400 block of Ella Street because she’d recently gotten out the hospital. She brought Phoebe to the front door to greet her friends, without a leash on her, as she didn’t expect the dog to leave. (It is Philadelphia law to keep dogs on a leash when they are being walked outside, but Son was just answering the door.) But the dog grew distracted by a balloon that was floating by; Son’s friend John grabbed the balloon and popped it, but Phoebe — still interested in the balloon — went to follow John across the street where he was going to throw the balloon out.

John took Phoebe by her collar because she didn’t have her leash on, threw the balloon out, and was walking her back to Son’s house with his hand on her collar when a police vehicle came down the street. Fearing for the safety of both John and Phoebe, Son and her friends yelled to the officer to stop his car. Phoebe got spooked by all the yelling and broke away from John and dashed across the street toward Son. But instead of slowing down, Son says, it seemed to her as though the officer sped up. He hit Phoebe; she died later, in Son’s arms, on the way to Penn Veterinary hospital.

Now Son is looking for answers and has posted a number of videos from that night on a Facebook page called Justice 4 Phoebe Son. The longest video is heartbreaking: Son sits in the street next to the cruiser, cradling a bloodied Phoebe in her lap. She wails, almost incoherently, at two nearby officers: “Why didn’t you stop when we told you to stop?” One of the officers replies, “Ma’am, you’re going to blame it on me regardless.” Someone in the crowd says, “What if it had been a child?” The officer says, “It wasn’t a child,” which causes the distraught woman to yell that the dog was her child. “We told you to stop!” she screams again between sobs. “You didn’t stop! Okay?” The officers are silent. “Why the fuck did you think we were flagging you down? We told you to stop. I don’t give a shit. … you going to take me to jail for fucking consoling my dog?” Then the video ends.

Son says her neighbor tried to calm her down because the officers were threatening to take her into custody. “My neighbor was telling them, ‘This just happened to her, please understand, she’s emotional, she’s hurt.’ I was crying so hard and screaming, my neighbors came out.” Things would have gone differently, she said, if the officer had simply gotten out of his car and been kind to her. Instead, she says, he was rude and told her the dog was the same color as the pavement, which is why he didn’t see it. “He didn’t apologize, I was on the ground crying and screaming. He was just on his phone. That’s what made me so outraged and hurt was that he didn’t care. I was begging them to take Phoebe to the hospital and they just told me that they couldn’t do that, it’s against their procedures. I couldn’t think straight, I was so enraged.”

The officers told Son “help was on the way,” which she thought meant medical help for the dog. Instead, an Animal Control officer showed up and told Son matter-of-factly that the only thing they could do was take the dog and euthanize it. If she wanted medical care, the officer said, she’d have to take it to a hospital herself. But when she tried to do so, there were multiple police cars blocking the street. “It took several minutes for the officers to move their cars so that we could get Phoebe to the hospital,” Son says.

A Philly Police spokesperson told us, “An Internal Affairs complaint has been filed and we are thoroughly investigating the situation. At this time we can’t say more than that.”

But Son’s videos continue to gain attention. The blog Bloodhound News published the story with the headline: “Philadelphia Cop Runs Over Dog And Kills It In Front Of Owner.” It was picked up by the website Filming Cops and by Facebook groups like Cops Kill Dogs and Paws Up Don’t Shoot.

“I understand accidents happen, like if he was in a rush and there was an emergency and he was speeding by, I’d understand. But in this situation from what I seen and what I experienced, he just didn’t care.” Son wants to see the officer in question, Chad Culbreath, disciplined, at the very least. Emotionally, she’s still reeling. Crying over the phone from the salon where she works, Son says, “Phoebe understood me. She connected with me. I could have a conversation with her and she understood.”

The Philadelphia Police killed my beloved Phoebe. “She’s just a dog!”

Posted by Justice 4 Phoebe Son on Thursday, August 13, 2015

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