No charges for Flagstaff officer in hurt dog death

FLAGSTAFF, AZ - A Flagstaff police officer who used his baton, boot and a cable to kill an injured dog after a fellow officer accidentally hit the animal with his car in August will not face criminal charges, according to the Navajo County Attorney's Office.

Deputy Navajo County Attorney Michael Tunink said in a letter to police this week that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a case against Cpl. John Tewes, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

"This includes, but is not limited to, the fact that there is insufficient evidence of a culpable mental state for prosecution," Michael Tunink wrote in a Tuesday letter. "If additional evidence is submitted, I will, of course, review my decision at that time."

Tewes was called after another officer hit a loose dog with his car Aug. 19. Tewes and the other officer decided the dog needed to be euthanized, but Tewes was concerned about using his gun in the neighborhood.

According to a Coconino County sheriff's investigative report, Tewes repeatedly tried to bludgeon the dog to death, but it didn't die. He then tried to jump on the dog's head and cave in its skull, but that also didn't kill the animal. Eventually, after some 20 to 30 minutes of trying to kill the dog, he used a hobble, which is like a metal cable, to try to strangle the dog. It took several tries before the dog died.

"Tewes stated that he was thinking that he could not believe the dog wasn't dead yet, and it was the most bizarre thing," the sheriff's office report stated.

Tewes told investigators he regularly clubbed animals to end their suffering while he was hunting, and he thought he would be able to kill the dog quickly with his baton. He told investigators he didn't ask other officers for advice about other methods because he thought he knew how to do it.

The dog's body was left between two vehicles behind the police station and later stored in a freezer at the Humane Association. The owners didn't find out what had happened until five days later, the newspaper reported.

Flagstaff police Chief Kevin Treadway said an internal investigation would determine whether any department policies were violated.

Treadway said it was already departmental protocol for officers to contact either the animal control officer or the Humane Association shelter's 24-hour animal ambulance to deal with injured animals. But that had not been formalized in policy.

The department did have a policy to euthanize with either a sidearm or shotgun, depending on the animal. Additionally, Treadway said officers are required to inform the animal owner.

Within a week of the incident, the department had implemented a policy specifically addressing domesticated animals, and every officer was trained on the proper way to deal with such a situation.

"I have personally apologized to the dog owner for what occurred in this particular case, and I want the community to know that I understand their concerns regarding Corporal Tewes' actions in this case and have taken measures to make sure this never happens again," Treadway said.

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