Meet Beny. Former 2 y/o Montville, Ohio Police K-9, now deceased.
Why is Beny dead? Good question. By any standard a pathetic answer.
Beny is dead because his trusted handler, his BFF, Sgt. Brett Harrison, left him in his patrol car, windows up, engine off for 4 hours, which proved to be time sufficient for Beny to die a horrible heat-stroke induced death.
Now I am pretty certain that Sgt. Harrison is broken up. I have known many a K-9 officer, each and every one of which would give her/his life for her/his pawed partner, and I’m guessing that Brett, his brainlessnes in this instance not withstanding, almost certainly feel the same. However, regardless of a lack of intent, Beny is dead, Sgt. Harrison is single-handily responsible for the death and justice must now be served.
In this case, the Police Department’s version of justice was a 2 week suspension without pay, loss of 40 hours of vacation time, reassignment and a ban on being a K-9 handler. The prosecuting authority is seeking justice on behalf of the people of the State of Ohio by charging Brett with 2 misdemeanors counts of “companion animal cruelty”, which carry max penalties of 90 days in jail and a $750.00 fine.
As I said, I have known many a K-9 handler. These folks are, if nothing else, very much like doting parents when it comes to their furry partners. Sometimes they take the dog’s out of their vehicles, other times not, but when they don’t they always leave their cars running, a/c on.
Memo to Law Enforcement Agencies everywhere: There is technology (and in fact the Montville PD has now invested in it) called a “K-9 Hot-N-Pop System”, which monitors the heat index inside a vehicle and automatically lowers the windows when it reaches a designated temperature. When activated the system also triggers a cold air fan (which is directed at the K-9 kennel), starts the cruiser’s lights blinking and horn sounding and also sends a page to the officer’s pre-programmed cell phone. (The system costs about $2,500.00.) I’m pretty sure that Brett is wishing that he had that right about now.
Its old news now (as it seems to happen with greater regularity today) but many years ago I represented a young mother, a nurse by trade, who had left her infant daughter strapped in a car seat while she ran into Walmart. The car was locked, engine off and, unlike Beny’s case in Ohio (the outside temperature was 69-79 in Ohio), it was a good 90+ outside here in the 305, and it probably didn’t take long for the internal vehicle temperature to hit well over 100.
It is unknown how long my client was inside of Walmart (she claimed less than 15 minutes but this was pre-smart phone technology so the time frame was truly unascertainable) but what is certain is that by the time that Fire Rescue had arrived on scene (a passerby had seen the unattended baby, smashed the window in and called 911) the child was suffering from extreme dehydration, required IV fluids and hospitalization. She was discharged into the custody of her biological father.
In that case both felony child abuse criminal charges and a dependency (removal-restructuring of parental rights case) were initiated, against my client by the State, as well as a custody case in family court having been filed by the biological father. (This turned out to be the pilot case for Miami-Dade County’s unified family court, and after a painstaking process my client wound up earning a dismissal of the criminal charge, reunification with her daughter and kept her nursing license.) By the end of my case, and in my opinion, justice was served. As I told the press then, “this was not an instance of a bad person doing a bad thing; this was a case of an inherently good person doing a brainless thing”.
And so it seems to be the case here. I don’t know Sgt. Brett Harrison but based upon my knowledge of folks who do what he does (which requires an incredible passion and commitment), I have to guess that “this [too] was not an instance of a bad person doing a bad thing; this was a case of an inherently good person doing a brainless thing”.
RIP Beny! Alav Hashalom!
Since 1991 Michael A. Haber, P.A. has been creatively, effectively and zealously representing clients, both juvenile and adult, in both State and Federal Courts, in criminal cases ranging from DUI to drug trafficking and from misdemeanors to first degree murder.
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