Nephi Selu's family members spoke through their tears, saying they never saw the dog display any aggression.
Union City police say it was simply a terrible accident. They were called to the house on Elizabeth Way yesterday in the middle of the day. Six-year-old Nephi Seiu had been playing with eight other children in the backyard while adult members of the families were inside the home when was he attacked by the family pit bull.
"Somehow during the course of horse play it appears the young man might have tried to ride the dog's back or, you know, engage in some sort of horse play with the dog and the dog bit him," Union City Police Department Cmdr. Ben Horner said.
The boy was treated at the scene by eight emergency medical responders and then transported to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Family members said they had the dog for two years. It belonged to an uncle, who is a San Mateo police officer.
A lawyer hired by the department to support the family said the uncle ran outside immediately.
"He removed the dog from the child, without an incident, the dog let loose of the child right away," Michael Rains said.
Nephi's aunt said she never saw the dog display any aggressive behavior.
"He played with kids, very obedient, he was never allowed in the house, stayed right at the door, so we never had any problems with him at all, took him around with us, my kids loved him," Iona Keanaaina said.
The dog, a pit bull mix, was transported to the Tri-City Animal Shelter and is being held for routine 10 day quarantine. Police say the results of their investigation will determine its fate. A preliminary investigation determined that the owner of the dog was in compliance with anti-rabies inoculation and licensing requirements.