Animal Rights Advocates Call on D.A. for Criminal Investigation Into K-9 Death

By: 
Stephen Downing

At 9:16 a.m. on August 23 the Long Beach Police Department pronounced from its Twitter account that it was “extremely saddened to announce the death of its K-9 Ozzy.”

The Tweet reported that, at the time of his death, K-9 Ozzy and his handler were both off-duty and that the dog was inside the officer’s department-issued K-9 vehicle.

The Tweet did not report the fact that nine days earlier (Aug. 14) – the day Ozzy was found dead – that a veterinarian had determined the cause of death to be heat related.

It was later that Police Chief Robert Luna’s spokesperson acknowledged that the department was reviewing the circumstances surrounding Ozzy’s death including “possible equipment (AceDogWatch Alert) or mechanical failures,’ but hedged by stating that the “department believed the death to be accidental.”

The flood of questions from the press and the outrage that poured in from social media went unanswered until Wednesday, Aug. 28.

At that time Luna’s spokesperson informed the Beachcomber via email – and announced on Facebook – that an internal investigation had been launched and “we will not provide further comment until the internal affairs investigation has concluded.”

The fact that Ozzy’s isolation and abandonment in a hot vehicle under circumstances that resulted in his death had delivered – at the very least – reasonable cause to believe that a crime had been committed was not addressed by the LBPD.

All of this sent a signal to the Beachcomber.

This newspaper’s experience in making public document requests of the LBPD foreshadowed the perception that there will be no public comment, even after the internal affairs investigation is concluded.

The confirming red flag arrived on Sept. 3, at 9:53 a.m. in the form of an email received from the LBPD that set the stage for Chief Luna, City Manager Pat West and City Attorney Charles Parkin, to put in place their well-worn pretext for refusing to make public comment about the misconduct – criminal or otherwise – of police personnel or the corruption of the LBPD’s culture and administrative systems that fuel such misconduct.

Following the August 28 announcement that the LBPD would conduct an internal investigation the Beachcomber filed a Public Records Request for Documents (August 28, 2019 2:31:01 p.m.). The following was requested:

  1. All documents and correspondence to and from any employee or administrator at city fleet services and any other city employee related to the inspection of DetectiveThue’s K-9 vehicle and the functionality of AceDogWach system following the death of LBPD K-9 Ozzy.
  2. All documents and AceDogWatch cloud information related to the alert signal sent from the AceDogWach system during the period that the LBPD K-9 Ozzy was left in Detective Thue’s K-9 vehicle prior to Ozzy’s death.
  3. All records and cloud reports from the AceDogWatch system or any other correspondence between the Florida company, AceK-9.com/Radiotronics, that documents the date and time that Detective Thue established a registered link between the AceDogWatch system and any city or personally-owned cell phone, including the privately owned cell phone registered to (562) 484-4618.
  4. All documents and Cloud reports from the AceDogWatch system that identifies any other city or privately-owned cell phone that carried a registered link between the AceDogWatch alert system and DetectiveThue’s assigned K-9 vehicle.

In his Sept. 3 email, Chief Luna’s PRA sergeant notified the Beachcomber that all four public record requests were denied.

The rational provided was standard City Hall boilerplate:

Records related to the investigation into K9 Ozzy's death are being withheld pursuant to Gov. Code sections 6254(f) and (k) (Penal Code Section 832.7(a) and Evidence Code sections 1043 and 1046), and Government Code section 6255(a).

Because of the fact that the Beachcomber had uncovered web documentation that the drug enforcement detective is a principle in a marijuana business, the newspaper had asked and received no reply from the LBPD when asked if Chief Luna viewed such employment as a conflict of interest. Having received no reply a formal request for public documents was filed with the city for “all outside employment work permits issued by the LBPD between Detective Christopher Thue’s date of hire to the present.”

Chief Luna’s PRA sergeant denied that request in the PRA response email, writing:

Any collateral employment requests are withheld pursuant to 6254(c), (f), and (k), Penal Code Section 832.7(a) and Evidence Code sections 1043 and 1046) and Government Code 6255(a), as this type of record is a part of the officers' personnel file.”

Shortly after receiving the LBPD’s response to the public records requests another email arrived in the Beachcomber’s inbox.

Alex Armstrong of “Saving Long Beach Animals” and Patricia Folgar, representing the newly formed animal rights organization, “Justice for Ozzy,” attached the letter they sent to District Attorney Jackie Lacey on Sept. 2 calling for a criminal investigation into Ozzy’s death.

The letter said, in part: “Justice for Ozzy respectfully asks you to open a criminal investigation. After much research, we fully understand that an internal investigation may result in this story being hidden as a personnel matter and forgotten. It is known that Ozzy is not the first K9 that has died in a like manner. Ozzy, and all the other LBPD K9’s that have died as a result of criminal negligence, deserve the justice that the law provides for in cases like this. We hope that you will deliver that justice, for Ozzy and all the other K9s that may suffer a like fate if the LBPD and its handler is not held accountable.”

This story will be updated as new information is developed.

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.Stephen.Beachcomber@Gmail.com

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Comments

Again the LBPD corrupt organization is covering up officer misconduct with the help of the city manager, city attorney office and jumping in the mix to help cover this up is our very own elected officials, the LB city council, who has remained silent on this murder. Shame on all of you. We need to recall all these corrupt politicians and fire all these corrupt cops and those who aid in the cover-up.

They said no. And now you are mad. What did you expect? Look at your bias. You think they are going to want to do anything for you they don’t have to do? Kick rocks.

You picked the correct name, now go find another peter to puff. They are public files, and even if not, Freedom of Information Act should easily get by any of this nonsense.

Thank you for exposing this. K9s are killed in hot police cars at an alarming rate. Other news outlets have covered this. And the outcomes are eerily similar: “failed electronics” and “no criminal charges filed.” ENOUGH ALREADY.

"Anonymous" just posted three more comments attacking the messenger and failing to provide factual information relative to the posted story stating that an animal rights group has requested that the DA look into the K-9 death. As the moderator of this website, his/her postings were deleted since they do nothing to contribute to the issue and only serve to make personal attacks against the reporter.  As is the case with all letters to the editor, we do not use this forum as a "pissing contest" between individual contributors. Future, similar posts will be deleted as well.
 
Jay Beeler

Isn’t your information speculation too?
I mean other than heat related, we know nothing. No proven facts right? So, wouldn’t you be just making personal attacks against the officer?

Thank you for the post

This is sickening, where did Ozzy come from. The foundation or breeder needs to be contacted. This is sickening, another k9 death ignored.

LBPD announced, "preliminary they believe this was an accident and they are taking all the necessary steps to avoid this happening in the future."

This is exactly the same thing LAPD said the PREVIOUS time they left their K-9 in a hot car to die. How many of their K-9s will continue to be killed due to their officer's negligence that is a crime if committed by anybody but a cop.

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