Police investigators searched the car and cell phones of two men who survived the San Francisco Zoo tiger attack but won’t say if any evidence was found.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens confirmed that investigators were still reviewing the cell phone images taken by Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal at the time of the Christmas Day tiger attack that killed their friend, Carlos Sousa Jr. Authorities also inspected the car they took to the zoo.
“We’re processing both accordingly,” Gittens said.
Authorities have speculated that the car and phones may contain evidence that would indicate whether the brothers taunted the tiger before it escaped its enclosure. The wall around the tiger grotto was only 121/2 feet high – 4 feet below national safety standards.
Although police have been allowed to inspect the items under a search warrant issued Tuesday, attorneys from the city and zoo are still pushing to examine the items themselves. They went to court Wednesday to get access, but Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates Manoukian said that he wouldn’t immediately rule on the issue. The judge said he may issue a written decision Friday.
The items have been in police custody since the Dec. 25 incident, but investigators said they did not have the right to inspect them without the warrant.
City and zoo officials want to inspect the Dhaliwals’ phones and BMW to help defend against an expected civil lawsuit. Police are investigating possible criminal activity.
“San Francisco is just concerned about the truth,” Deputy City Attorney Sean Connolly said after the Wednesday hearing in San Jose. “We know that something happened out there at the zoo that motivated this tiger. … If there is any evidence of what happened during that period of time, it’s contained in those cell phones.”
Attorneys for the brothers have denied that they teased the animal, in spite of witness accounts that the Dhaliwals were harassing a lion at the big-cat grotto shortly before the attack.