Bond $2M for dog owner charged with murder in mauling
Detroit — The owner of the three dogs who mauled a 9-year-old Detroit girl to death this week was charged Thursday and given a $2 million cash bond that his attorney called "outrageous."
Pierre Cleveland, 33, is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and having dangerous animals causing death in the Monday attack that killed Emma Hernandez.
He waived the formal reading of charges during his arraignment via video Thursday afternoon in 36th District Court; a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Cleveland's attorney, Emmett Greenwood, asked for a "reasonable" bond, saying Cleveland has no criminal record and that he helped try to get the dogs off the child when she was attacked.
Greenwood asked for a "nominal" 10% bond, but his request was rejected by Magistrate Millicent Sherman, who cited the seriousness of the allegations against Cleveland.
Greenwood asked that his client get a medical designation while in the jail saying Cleveland, a machinist, lost three fingers in a workplace accident two weeks ago.
Cleveland is in a segregated area of the Wayne County Jail, according to a officer at the detention center. He was scheduled for a probable cause conference at 9 a.m. Aug. 30 and a preliminary exam Sept. 6.
With his head lowered during the hearing, Cleveland said, "My condolences to the family."
Cleveland lived across the alley from Emma and her family and owned the three pit bulls that leaped over a flimsy fence to attack her as she rode her bike.
Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Barbara Lanning asked for a minimum $100,000 bond for Cleveland. The prosecutor said during the hearing that Cleveland knew the dogs were aggressive and vicious and left them alone knowing that they were not restrained.
"Those dogs escaped multiple times even a week prior to this incident," Lanning said. "He knew that backyard was not secure."
Lanning said Cleveland was aware of a recent incident in which the dogs fought each other in his home and that in late July, one of the dogs killed "multiple" puppies.
On Thursday evening, hundreds of white and pink balloons were sent toward the sky as family and the community dressed in white held a vigil for Emma.
Calling out “never again,” about 300 mourners gathered at St. Hedwig Park, next door to Emma’s school, Academy of the America’s, where she played each day during recess.
Principal Nicholas Brown said he hopes he never has to talk about an attack like this to students.
“This is just the beginning to reconcile what has occurred ... but we will walk with this family through this together one step at a time,” Brown told the crowd. “This is just a small sample of the love in our community.”
Detroit Police Department Chaplain Corp. Avis Taylor sang “Amazing Grace” and led a group in a prayer with his arms wrapped around family members. The attack left those who knew Emma speechless, they said, and many declined to comment.
Stephen Grady, chief of staff for City Council president Brenda Jones, spoke to the family saying he, as a father of two, couldn’t imagine the pain they are enduring.
“On behalf of the council, the staff members, the entire city and all 670,000 Detroiters, I want the Hernandez family to know we express our condolences, and all of us are praying, supporting and loving you,” Grady said. “I personally, haven’t been able to sleep well the past three days.”
Emma and her 13-year-old brother were out for a bike ride around 4 p.m. Monday in the alley on the 6030 block of Central Avenue when she was attacked. Another neighbor threw bricks at the dogs in an attempt to stop them from mauling the girl.
Emma's father rushed her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Before the fatal attack on Monday, Cleveland allegedly left the dogs that "he knew were dangerous, loose and unsecured" in the backyard of his home while he went to a nearby store, the prosecutor said.
Investigation of the location revealed that the fence that lined the yard was damaged. There was also a garage side door that was open and led to the alley where the victim was attacked, Lanning said.
"It is horrible to imagine what Emma went through as she was being mauled to death by vicious dogs allegedly owned by the defendant," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement Thursday.
An investigator for Animal Control in Detroit had been out to the man's home in March 2018 following an anonymous phone call of "two dogs loose" in the neighborhood.
Animal Control Officer Carl McClanahan said he followed up on a March 2 complaint with his department and went to the home in the 6000 block of Central Avenue, across the alley from the girl's home on Florida Street.
McClanahan said he didn't get an answer at the home and didn't see the two dogs the caller complained about. The officer said he left a note asking for the dogs' owner to call him back. McClanahan said he never did. Animal Control did not get followup calls from neighbors about the dog.
McClanahan said Animal Control is waiting on orders for the dogs to be euthanized.
A visitation will be held 5-7 p.m. Thursday at St. Hedwig Park on Junction near Michigan, said the child's uncle Francisco Hermandez.
The child's funeral is at noon Saturday at St. Cunegunda Church, 5900 St. Lawrence in Detroit. Visitation is 3-8 p.m. Friday at Professional Mortuary Services, 3833 Livernois, also in Detroit.
There has been an outpouring of support for the Hernandez family following the death.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, a GoFundMe page had raised $57,560 to help pay for Emma's funeral costs and other expenses.
A growing memorial for Emma graces the family's house. Another smaller memorial marks where the child was attacked in the alley linking Central Street, where the dogs lived with their owner, and the child's block on Florida.