(CN) – A Massachusetts man arrested for shooting his neighbor’s Siberian husky lost his bid for a new trial in his civil rights lawsuit against police. Frederick Grossmith said he shot the dog, Kato, after it harassed his livestock, got into a fight with his dog and bit him when he tried to check its tags.
He was charged with cruelty to animals, unlawful killing of an animal and discharge of a firearm near a highway, but was later acquitted of those charges.
Grossmith then sued two Foxborough police officers, alleging illegal seizure, assault, battery, false arrest, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
A jury ruled for the officers, and Grossmith appealed, claiming the trial court had improperly allowed jurors to see a picture of Kato and hear testimony about the dog’s character, including descriptions of Kato as a “good dog” and a “nice dog.”
The 1st Circuit federal appeals court in Boston called his attack on the evidentiary rulings “an uphill battle,” because trial judges are given deference in their admission of evidence.
“It is rare for a party on appeal to upset a jury verdict on this basis,” Chief Judge Sandra Lynch wrote.
Lynch said the photograph of Kato was useful in evaluating the credibility of Grossmith’s testimony that Kato was “vicious,” “bloodthirsty” and looked like a coyote or wolf. But Grossmith admitted on cross-examination that he had previously said Kato was “malnourished, flea-bitten, unkempt and that his owner should be prosecuted for animal cruelty.”
The appellate panel said the testimony of Grossmith and other witnesses “made Kato’s character and appearance relevant to this case.”