Victims of tiger mauling may face manslaughter charges

The warrant obtained by the San Francisco Police Department to search the car and cell phones of the San Jose brothers mauled by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo was based on the potential of manslaughter charges being filed against the two, a police spokesman said.

Kulbir and Paul Dhaliwal were injured after allegedly taunting the tiger before it jumped a 12½-foot wall on Christmas Day and killed their 17-year-old friend Carlos Sousa Jr. Authorities are investigating the brothers’ roles in the escape of the Siberian tiger from its enclosure.

“Because somebody died, there is a possibility of criminal charges,” police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens said. He would not comment on the results of the warrant search. Police can only requests search warrants that could potentially result in felony accusations.

Kulbir Dhaliwal admitted that the three friends drank vodka and smoked marijuana in their San Jose home before going to the zoo, according to an affidavit, which resulted in the search warrant being granted.

The affidavit said a partial shoe print found on the railing of the tiger exhibit “appears to be consistent with” Paul Dhaliwal’s shoe print.

On Friday afternoon, a Santa Clara judge ruled that officials from the City Attorney’s office and the zoo could search the contents of the Dhaliwal brothers’ cell phones, but not their car. Lawyers from The City and the zoo are preparing for an expected civil lawsuit filed by the Dhaliwal and Sousa families and are working to gather evidence.

Attorney Mark Geragos, representing the Dhaliwal brothers, and attorney Michael Cardoza, representing the Sousa family, accused outside powers of influencing the Police Department’s decision to seek a search warrant.

“This is nothing but a PR stunt,” Geragos said. “There was no criminal investigation a week ago. The city attorney is working part and parcel with spin doctor [Sam] Singer to continue this smear campaign against the Dhaliwal brothers.”

Sam Singer, the media-relations specialist hired by the zoo, said “Geragos is attributing powers to me that are completely nonsensical.”

City attorney spokesperson Matt Dorsey said there was “no basis for the allegations” that his department influenced the police’s decision to seek a search warrant.

wreisman@examiner.com

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