In Killing of Police Dogs, Cops Usually Get Light Punishment

A Hialeah cop who killed two police dogs in Davie by leaving them in the car all day is facing the wrath of a dog-loving public that is appalled that somebody, especially a cop, could commit such a heinous crime.

However, Officer Nelson Enriquez won't face charges of murdering a police officer because, contrary to popular belief, police dogs aren't actually considered police officers.

According to Florida statute 843.19, Enriquez could face only a third-degree felony for killing his canine partners:

Any person who intentionally and knowingly, without lawful cause or justification, causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or death to, or uses a deadly weapon upon, a police dog, fire dog, SAR dog, or police horse commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

Unless Davie Police want to charge Enriquez with two counts or find other evidence of a different crime, it's likely that the Hialeah cop, who has been suspended with pay pending the investigation, will face a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Considering that two other recent cases of officers killing their K-9s resulted in no prison time, the maximum penalty is unlikely. As the Herald pointed out yesterday:

In 2007, Miami-Dade police Sgt. Allen Cockfield was charged with animal cruelty after prosecutors determined a kick he administered to his German shepherd Duke during a training session was a fatal blow. Cockfield was later acquitted at trail.
Then in March 2008, Miami officer Rondal Brown was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after his bloodhound Dynasty starved to death... Dynasty was discovered starving and emaciated. Brown later left the police department and agreed to serve probation on animal cruelty charges. 

Things tend to work out differently for civilians charged with harming canine officers. Just last year in Palm Beach County, 17-year-old Ivins Rosier was sentenced to 23 years in prison for shooting a retired canine officer after breaking into a state highway patrolman's home. Nobody was at the home during the break-in. Although Rosier was 16 at the time of the crime, state attorney Dave Aronberg charged him as an adult and sought 30 years on all counts for "shooting into an occupied dwelling," armed burglary, and animal cruelty. After the guilty verdict, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office held an elaborate memorial service for the retired canine, complete with a 12-gun salute and speeches from the county's top brass, including Aronberg, who praised his staff for seeking three decades in prison for a juvenile.

Meanwhile, news stories abound of people getting hefty sentences for killing canine cops — but each time, as in the Rosier case, the sentences were enhanced due to other factors. In 2009, a diagnosed schizophrenic from Washington got a life sentence for killing a canine cop that was running toward him while he hid in a gulch. It was the man's third strike, which enabled the life sentence.

In 2014, a South Carolina man fleeing from police after committing an armed robbery was attacked by a police dog. The man shot the dog several times. When he was eventually caught, each bullet he fired he fired was considered an attempted murder charge, in addition to the charge of killing the dog. He got 35 years

Meanwhile, a Facebook page documents news stories of police who kill dogs. That page gets updated often. 

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Ray Downs
Contact: Ray Downs