A Minnesota sheriff's deputy will avoid jail time after he was caught abusing his K9 partner in a hotel parking lot, sparking worldwide outrage (video below).
Security camera footage from the Black Bear Casino in Carlton, Minnesota, shows Deputy Brett Berry attacking his K9 partner, Boone, during a police dog training conference, Pine Journal reported. The footage, taken on June 15, 2015, shows Berry picking Boone up by his collar and tossing him onto the concrete, then chasing after the dog, who tries to run to safety inside the casino.
But Boone gets stuck in between the casino's double doors and Berry catches up to him. Footage shows Berry repeatedly striking Boone.
Berry, an 18-year veteran of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, told a Minnesota judge he was "blackout drunk" at the time, and didn't realize what he was doing. Boone wasn't seriously injured, and the sheriff's office posted a video of the police dog in July 2015 on its Facebook page, showing him healthy and enjoying playtime in a field.
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“Here is Boone on our K-9 training field,” the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office wrote on its Facebook page. “As you can see from the video, he loves his job and is very good at it. Thank you for your continued concern for Boone, we greatly appreciate it.”
The prosecutor in the case, Carlton County attorney Thom Pertler, said he received more than 500 letters from outraged members of the public who had seen the video of Berry attacking the K9, reported Pine Journal.
"In all the years I've done this, of all the types of cases I've handled — from child abuse to first-degree murder — I haven't ever received this many emails and letters," Pertler told Pine Journal.
Berry, 48, was initially charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and assaulting a public safety dog. The latter charge was dropped, and the deputy avoided jail time by pleading guilty to the former charge and agreeing to undergo treatment for alcoholism. The terms of the plea deal forbid Berry from using alcohol, running afoul of the law for the next year, and owning any pets. Berry was also ordered to pay about $1,200 in fines, according to CW33.
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Berry will keep his job, and has been receiving pay since the incident, when he was placed on administrative leave.
That didn't sit well with protesters outside the courtroom, who said they were disappointed with the sentencing.
Animal shelter volunteer Mary Nelson told the Pine Journal that Boone's case underscores the need for stronger animal abuse laws which don't just consider pets as property.
"As the public, I feel that our job is just getting started," Nelson said. "We need to go to our legislators and demand that change. Otherwise, this just happens again. This should've been an officer-on-officer offense, not an officer-on-property offense."
Berry didn't have much to say before Judge Leslie Beiers at the sentencing.
"I made a mistake, judge," the deputy said, according to Pine Journal.
Beiers told Berry she understood that his alcoholism was a factor in the incident, but said that did not excuse his behavior.
"As a police officer sworn to protect and serve, which you have done for many years, you have the privilege of being a K-9 officer," she said, reported Pine Journal. "It's those circumstances that make it an even more serious offense."