Charge against DPS officer in K-9's death to be dismissed
CREATED Sep. 7, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Department of Public Safety officer responsible for his K-9 partner’s death will have the charge against him dismissed, according to the Tucson city prosecutor. As part of a plea offer, Officer Kory Lankow will take a class about animal safety and pay a $200 fee.
Lankow forgot seven-year-old Jeg in a hot patrol car in mid-July. Veterinarians later euthanized the Belgian Malinois.
Lankow had faced a single count of animal neglect in Tucson city court and no felony charges. City prosecutor Baird Greene said that charge will be dismissed after Lankow attends a four-hour class in next month on animal safety and law.
The prosecutor's office offered that class to Lankow, who agreed to take it, through what's called a "diversion program." It allows certain first-time misdemeanor offenders to take a course rather than go through the courts and create a criminal record.
So, why was the offer made to Lankow?
“Korey Lankow's not the sort of person we would ever expect to see being prosecuted again in city court, given all the information that we have about him,” Greene told 9 on Your Side reporter Kevin Keen.
The decision's partly based on information about the officer and on what happened that hot July day, resulting in Jeg's death.
“According to the Tucson Police Department investigation, he did everything he could to try to save that dog,” Greene said. “This is not a case where we have someone who intentionally harmed an animal through torture or mistreatment. It's not even a case where we have individual who knew was suffering and did nothing to help their animal. This is a case where Korey Lankow made a tragic mistake, a horrible mistake, but nevertheless it was a mistake with no intent or knowledge.”
What wasn't factor, Greene said, is the fact that Lankow is an officer.
“Were this individual not a police officer--were (this) a member of the public who did something with substantially the same facts, we would offer the same plea offer,” he said. “In other words, he's not getting any special treatment because he's a police officer.”
9 On Your Side wanted to know: How is justice reached through this diversion program?
“The justice in this comes that while he is being prosecuted for this, he's given the opportunity in the court system to rectify the situation,” Greene said.
9 On Your Side went to Pima Animal Care Center to learn more about the diversion class. Public service supervisor Jayne Cundy said when her center offers the course, 30 to 60 people attend who face charges of animal neglect or license or leash violations, for example.
“We go through everything from leash law to selling animals on the street (law),” she said. “We go through everything because it's such a broad spectrum for why the people are in the class. We just cover everything,” she later said.
Lankow is back on the job, according to DPS, without a K-9 partner.