UNION CITY (KCBS)—The San Mateo police officer who owns the dog involved in the mauling of a young relative on Monday has hired a top criminal defense attorney. Meanwhile, the animal has been put down.
While no decision has been made on whether or not criminal charges will be filed, Keala Keanaaina, the uncle of victim Nephi Selu, has retained high-profile attorney Michael Rains, who is known for representing police accused of misconduct—including the case of the BART shooting of Oscar Grant.
Police said the dog bit Nephi Selu on top of his head Monday morning at his grandparents’ home in Union City.
Emergency crews took Nephi to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto. He was declared dead about 4 1/2 hours after he was bitten.
Keanaaina was off duty when the incident occurred. He believed the boy’s injuries were not serious and went to work before learning the boy died.
The pit bull mix has since been euthanized.
By all accounts, the dog attack that happened in the backyard was brief and violent. Rains said his client was quick to react.
“He heard a commotion and went downstairs and he saw that the dog had the child and then he just went to the dog immediately and took hold of the dog at the jaw and the dog released—immediately,” he said.
Selu’s aunt, Iona Keanaainasaid, said the family is devastated and wanted nothing to do with the pit bull named “Gava.”
“It’s the biggest loss in our family,” she said. “It’s my sister’s son but he was just like my own.”
Initial reports indicated that the dog was known by neighbors to get along well with kids and was vaccinate and licensed.
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