CREATED Jun. 14, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Allegations of abuse made by one officer, leading to an investigation into the entire K-9 unit at the Fort Myers Police Department. We learned Friday, the investigation is complete and the officer who admitted to FOX4, there were problems within the department, might have been stretching the truth.
Hundreds of pages of documents detailed allegations of abuse within the K-9 unit at the Fort Myers Police Department. The investigation was launched after Officer George Sanford admitted to FOX4 that there were even bigger problems going on behind closed doors.
In a February 14Th interview with FOX4, Officer George Sanford admitted to smacking his K-9 partner Euro.
"Yes, I did smack Euro in the nose twice, two or three times." Officer Sanford said in a February 14Th, 2013 interview.
FMPD investigated the incident after two officers reported seeing Officer George Sanford "strike" his K-9 Euro multiple times in the head during a training exercise last October.
But Sanford said he never abused his dog and said the two officers who reportedly saw the incident were "covering themselves" for acts they had committed on their K-9 partners.
The allegations Sanford made during our interview launched an internal investigation of the entire K-9 unit. In documents released Friday, we learned that when Sanford was questioned by a Lieutenant, he took back the accusations against the two officers.
"I'm saying I don't think Ezra or Padgham would ever abuse his dog ok? My concern was the over correction of the pinch collar from the first one, uh, and the second one was the cowering. The cowering could've been the fact that he was still hurting from whatever they did to him when he was in the vet. The cowering could've been that he was just got spooked a bit." Officer Sanford said.
Documents showed both officers denied any abuse or mistreatment of their K-9 partners, but said they think they know why Sanford accused them.
" I think he you know, claimed my actions were worse and then says they're not abuse so I think he was just trying to justify his actions and divert attention from himself ." Officer Ezra Padgham said.
"I feel like that this is some sort of retaliatory measure on Officer Sanford's part due to the fact that he feels that he may have been passed over within the unit and not provided the opportunity to eventually one day become a trainer in the unit." Officer Jeremy Hawkins said.
According to the investigation, neither of the officers will be disciplined because Officer Sanford made false accusations against them and because their actions were lawful, proper and consistent with department policy.