Police search for evidence in tiger mauling

January 16, 2008 7:49:59 PM PST
On Wednesday, San Francisco police examined the cell phones and the car of the surviving brothers in the Christmas day tiger attack. Earlier in the day, attorneys for the city and the zoo tried to persuade a South Bay judge to block the return of those items to the brothers, but San Francisco police were a step ahead.

We have now heard the frantic 911 calls that Kulbir Dhaliwal made the night he and his brother Paul were attacked by the tiger. Those tapes were released yesterday.

What else is on the brothers' cell phones? The San Francisco City Attorney's Office would like to know.

"Since it's capable of taking photographs and especially since its capable of recording text, it's like being a witness by itself," says Sean Connolly, Deputy City Attorney.

Deputy City Attorney Sean Connelly and attorneys for the zoo went to Santa Clara superior court to prevent the brothers from getting back their cell phones and car. The items are being held by San Francisco Police.

Last Friday, a San Francisco court commissioner ruled that the case should be decided in Santa Clara County, where the brothers live. They are represented by Shepard Kopp from the Mark Geragos law firm.

"There nothing that's going to show these guys provoked or taunted that tiger in any way," says Kopp.

San Francisco Police have said their tiger investigation was complete and inactive. Late yesterday, police obtained a search warrant from a San Francisco judge to examine the cell phones and the car.

"The investigators are in the process of exercising the warrant by going through the vehicle and processing the vehicle and also looking at the cell phones," says Neville Gittens, SFPD Public Information.

Connelly said he knew nothing about the warrant, nor would it would help his case anyway.

"I don't now anything about the warrant. I don't know anything about the parameters of the warrant. As far as I understand, it's confidential information."

Kopp says the timing of the warrant is strange.

"Somehow the San Francisco Police Department changes from an inactive investigation to an active one and goes and gets a search warrant. I find the timing of that highly suspicious."

If there is evidence on the phones or in the car that the brothers somehow provoked the tiger, that could affect the criminal investigation, as well as the amount of liability the city and the zoo will face.

The judge says he'll likely decide whether to return the brothers items Friday.