Officer responsible for K-9's death back on job, won’t face felony charges
CREATED Aug 14, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Weeks have passed, but outrage over the death of a law enforcement K-9 has not. Thirty-four days ago, an Ariz. Dept. of Public Safety officer left his K-9 partner in hot patrol car in Tucson. Veterinarians later euthanized the dog, Jeg. Lately, 9 On Your Side viewers have been asking: What's happened to the officer? 9 On Your Side went to work, finding he's back on the job and won't be facing at least some charges.
9 On Your Side found DPS Officer Korey Lankow, who left Jeg in the patrol car, is no longer on administrative leave. A department spokesman said Lankow is back on the job, but without a K-9 partner.
9 On Your Side also found Lankow will not face felony charges. The Tucson Police Department is in charge of the criminal investigation relating to what happened, and an agency spokeswoman said the Pima County Attorney’s Office has decided not to file charges against the officer.
“My guess is that the Pima County Attorney's Office looked at all of the circumstances and concluded that it was unlikely that it was done in a intentional, knowingly or reckless manner,” said Tucson attorney Mike Piccarreta.
Piccarreta is not involved in the case, but offered possible reasons why the county prosecutor chose not to pursue the case. That office did not return 9 On Your Side’s request for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Read 9 On Your Side's previous story on what the law says about leaving a dog in a vehicle.
But the legal case--and possible charges against Lankow--aren't over. The Tucson City Prosecutor's Office is now reviewing Tucson police's case to consider misdemeanor charges against him. The city prosecutor told 9 On Your Side he expected action in the coming days.
At the same time as the criminal investigation and possible prosecution advances, DPS continues its own internal review.
In a statement, the department wrote: "This investigation is expected to last until the end of the year and will help ensure that unfortunate incidents such as Jeg's death can be avoided in the future. While DPS is conducting an internal investigation, the criminal case is in the hands of the Tucson Police Department and DPS is confident in their ability to be fair and impartial with that investigation.”
Keen asked Piccarreta: “Could this investigation take longer than it would if it were just an average Joe on the street--if they would've left their dog inside of a car?” “I think it definitely does,” he answered. “Whether it should is another question. It definitely does because when they have a law enforcement incident like this and possible criminal behavior by a law enforcement officer, there's a lot deeper investigation.”
9 On Your Side also asked DPS if the results of its review would be made public. A spokesman said the department recognized the interest in this case and wants to be transparent. He said, as an example, that could mean releasing any changes in officer training, policies and/or equipment that result because of the review of Jeg's death.