K-9 Bak’s Horrific Death ~ His Killer Returns…

K-9 Bak’s Horrific Death ~ His Killer Returns…

This is an update on another K9 unresolved hot car death from 2016. It is particularly gruesome. 

I first brought you the story of K-9 Bak on August 30, 2016, in a story called What Is It With These Psycho Cops?? Bak’s death was so disturbing, so egregious that I mentioned him in several posts including The Tragedy of K-9 Bak  on November 3, 2016.

Eight-year-old K-9 Bak was with the Stephens County OK Sheriff’s Dept. for six years. He was dual trained in both narcotics and detection and according to Sheriff Wayne McKinney, brought excellent work to the department. For the past four years, he was partnered with Deputy Matthew Peck, with whom he resided. Ironically, both K-9 Bak and Deputy Peck had both been with the department for six years.

On August 3, 2016, Deputy Peck finished his shift and returned home with Bak in the vehicle. Peck was off duty until August 5. We don’t know if K-9 Bak lived inside Peck’s home or in an outside kennel. What we do know however is that when Peck exited the patrol unit on August 3, he left K-9 Bak inside. Left him with no food, no water, and no air flow.

The outside temperature on August 3 was 100 degrees F  and remained high the rest of the week.

When Deputy Peck entered the patrol unit on August 5, he discovered his partner’s dead body. There was also a noticeable odor. In the initial media reports there were some discrepancies as to exactly when on August 5 Peck discovered K-9 Bak deceased; one report said he discovered him as soon as he entered the patrol vehicle and another said it wasn’t till he arrived at the Sheriff’s Department then reentered the vehicle to go to court that he made the gruesome discovery. In either event, the dog was left unattended for 38 hours. I cannot comprehend how a handler who has been partnered with a K9 for four years fails to notice that the dog is not out and about. Did it dawn on Peck when Bak’s usual meal time rolled around? Did he once stop and think, “Where is my partner”?When you  handle a dog every working day, month after month, they become just as close to you as any human partner. If a human officer willfully abandoned his partner to die of heat exhaustion, he’d be not only fired, he’d immediately be brought up on felony murder charges.

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Matthew Thomas Peck was arrested on August 29 and charged with one count of cruelty to an animal, a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, and a fine of up to $5,000. After booking he was released on bond.

Matthew Peck

I had planned on attending his hearing scheduled for November 30, 2016, but was notified by the district attorney’s office that Peck had been deployed and would be leaving prior to November 30 therefore the hearing was being postponed. He was deployed to the Ukraine on November 28 with the Oklahoma National Guard Company A 45th Brigade.

The wait began.

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On July 26, 2017, Matthew Peck’s unit returned to Oklahoma.

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He has a Preliminary Hearing Conference scheduled for October 11, 2017, at 9 am at the Stephens County Courthouse. All filed documents pertaining to this case are public record and available online at the Oklahoma State Courts Network. Once the link opens it will automatically be on the Stephens County page. Enter case number CF-16-387 and his case will appear. Documents can either be viewed or downloaded.

Although it’s imperfect, justice does still exist in the world. I have faith in Stephens County Assistant District Attorney Cortnie Siess to ensure that K9 Officer Bak receives it and that his slow and agonizing death not go unpunished.

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K-9 Bak

EOW August 5, 2016

Stephens County Sheriff’s Department

He has gone home to rest for the final time

“Officer Kilo Bak is 10-42 … Good Boy Bak”

 

💙💙The  blue line has not forgotten you💙💙

*To be continued in November 💙🖤

 

Next Up ~ A loyal K9 is brutally murdered in AR

 

K-9 Doki ~ Have You Forgotten Him?…

K-9 Doki ~ Have You Forgotten Him?…

Heat related K9 deaths ~ and so it begins for 2017.

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K-9 Doki, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Ridgeland, SC, died on April 20, 2017.  According to the Jasper County Sun Times, K9-Doki’s death was attributed to heat exhaustion when the K-9 vehicle he was in experienced a “malfunction causing the temperature to rise to an unsafe level,” the JCSO said. He was rushed to a veterinarian hospital where tragically he died. According to Accuweather.com, the outside temperature in Ridgeland, SC on April 20 was 85 degrees F.

Doki 2 year old Belgium Malinois

How long K-9 Doki was in the vehicle is unknown. Very little is known about K-9 Doki except that he had been with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office for approximately one year. This article refers to the announcement of his death on the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page but I wasn’t able to locate it.  They have two Facebook pages but the first one says it’s their official page whereas the second doesn’t.

In either case, neither page mentions K-9 Doki nor are there any photographs, almost as if he’s been forgotten. 

I  was also unable to find any mention of a funeral, memorial service or tribute of any kind. It is as if he never existed which is truly heartbreaking because Doki’s life did matter. Perhaps The JCSO should read this and take heed.

A Working Dog’s Oath
I will lay down my life for you
and expect nothing but love in return.
I protect my officer with my life,
and would gladly take a bullet in his place.
I am sent in to find lost children
and fugitives on the run.
I find drugs and weapons and even bombs.
I am the first sent in  

and sometimes the last to leave.
I am the nose and ears of my officer.

I will protect and serve him.
I would die for him and for you.
I only ask for compassion and a kind word

K9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

doki-jpg-1492714144

Your Life Mattered Dear Boy…

 

🖤Next Up ~ The return of a monster.💙

Summer 2017 ~ More K9 Deaths Including Murder…

Summer 2017 ~ More K9 Deaths Including Murder…

In the summer of 2016 there were twelve known heat related deaths of K9s who were left in a hot vehicle by their handler. As of August 22, 2017 there have been thirteen heat related K9 deaths in the US; twelve in a hot vehicle and one  overworked in oppressive heat. It doesn’t end there however because another K9 was “mysteriously” murdered, bringing the total death rate to fourteen.

Every year the K9 death toll climbs despite more public awareness. But then, these dogs don’t die at the hand of a member of the public but rather, through the negligent actions of their handler. This is not simply not acceptable. Police officers need to be held to a higher standard to protect their canine partners; a highly skilled and trained dog that would take a bullet intended for his human. The rise in heat related K9 deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect these dogs.  Safety monitoring system aside, how does one “forget” their partner?  These K9s are the unsung heroes of any police department plus loyal companions who are frequently put in harm’s way because, like their human partner, their job is to protect and serve. I thought law enforcement as a whole had progressed to the point where departments placed the same importance on a K9 officer as they do on a human one; that their service, sacrifices and lives are viewed with the same intensity as a human.  Sadly I was mistaken for it appears that many departments view these invaluable canines as mere equipment, disposable commodities. A paltry memorial service (if at all), no media coverage past the initial death, and the department “circles the wagons” around the handler, often not releasing his name for months. He’s allowed to continue working pending investigation or sometimes suspended with pay.

To illustrate the integral role canines have in law enforcement, I’ve chosen three cases from 2017 that demonstrate the value these remarkable animals bring to their departments and community.

K-9 Casper Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office West Palm Beach, FL

k9 casper day July 11, 2017 (1)

On May 12, 2017 Casper, a 4-year-old K9 SWAT and bomb detection dog with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office, took a bullet for his handler during a Jupiter, Florida, shootout. Miraculously, the bullet missed K-9 Casper’s vital organs and he was saved with immediate veterinary intervention. The story and heartwarming video can be seen here in a video provided by the PBSO. In a media interview, his handler describes the harrowing ordeal and how grateful he is to his partner.

K9 Casper

K-9 Casper has since returned to work and July 11, 2017 was named  “K-9 Casper Day” in Palm Beach County. The suspect, 46-year-old Philip O’Shea, was killed at the scene.

K-9 Cain Crossville Police Department  TN

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On August 2, K-9 Cain, a 3-year-old trained in patrol and narcotics with the Crossville Police Department in Tennessee, died after being stabbed multiple times by a suspect he was pursuing. Despite heroic efforts by his handler  and a Crossville Fire Department member,  this hero succumbed to his injuries. He was honored in a moving funeral service attended by hundreds on August 11.

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Courtesy of Crossville PD

His grief-stricken handler talks about losing his faithful partner in one of the passionate descriptions I’ve ever heard of the bond between a handler and their dog. The suspect, 28-year-old Dustin Lee Dixon, remains in custody.

K-9 Lex Adams County Sheriff’s Office CO

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On August 16, 2017, K-9 Lex, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois certified in narcotics and patrol with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado, saved his injured partner by opening a latched gate with his paw and going to his partner’s aid . The dynamic duo had become separated in a chase when the deputy jumped a fence to pursue the suspect and became embroiled in a fight.  The handler was hospitalized for his injuries but made a full recovery. The suspect, 25-year-old Gabriel Steven Garcia, was charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault in the attack on the deputy and remains in custody with a latch he can’t open.

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 Once again, a dog comes to their human partner’s aid.

K9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

 

Next Up ~ K9 Doki

                                                                           💙🖤 

 

 

 

 

Summer & More K9 Deaths But First…

Summer & More  K9 Deaths But First…

Before I begin detailing the 2017 senseless, heat related K9 deaths and one K9 who was mysteriously murdered, I want to do an update on several deaths from the summer of 2016.

I first wrote about the hot car death of K-9 Lina, an officer with the Madison County Sheriff’s department in November 2016,  The Senseless Death of K-9 Lina….Part 1

I knew there would be a second part because no decision had been made regarding disciplinary action or charges against the handler who had forgotten about her in a hot patrol unit parked in his driveway. Little did I know how convoluted her story would become until it began unfolding. I eventually write four parts because I wanted the public to know how some departments dismiss a hot car death as “an unfortunate accident”. The negligent handler might receive a minor disciplinary action but charges aren’t usually brought and if they are it’s typically a misdemeanor. The reasoning behind the prosecutor’s decision (with department input) basically comes down to negligence versus intention. Was the handler negligent? If the parties involved believe this then the K9s death is ruled accidental. If they believe the handler had intent then it’s criminal. I agree there’s a difference between intention and negligence for clearly in most cases but not all,  the K9s death was not the handlers intent. However, prosecutors and departments cannot continue to dismiss these deaths as unfortunate accidents and therefore deem the handler simply negligent. They must be held to a higher standard to protect their partners. These deaths are preventable and illustrate acts of wanton negligence or over-reliance on technology to protect the dogs when in reality, it is the handler’s responsibility. When an officer is partnered with a K9, they become just as close as a human partner. Would they lock their human partner in a vehicle for hours? With no means of escape? Unequivocally the answer is no. And if they did? The charges would be much harsher than a low-level misdemeanor and their careers would instantly end. Yet the powers to determine time and time again that the K9’s death is negligent accompanied by a plethora of excuses for the officer; overworked sleep deprivation ~ the list is endless.

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The September 9, 2016, hot car death of K-9 Lina was deemed an accident. Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney announced on September 23 that he was not charging Deputy Cornelison. To his credit, on September 26, Sheriff Phillip Morgan took disciplinary action for K-9 Lina’s death:

Deputy Cornelison will:

  1. Be suspended without pay for 60 days.
  2. Be removed from the K9 program.
  3. Be decertified as a K9 Handler.
  4. A letter of reprimand will be placed in his file.
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Sheriff Phillip Morgan

The community rallied around the deputy by forming a Facebook support group and collecting funds to help him while on the unpaid suspension. Finally, on November 12, a memorial service for K-9 Lina was held. Yet her name wasn’t on the MCSO Memorial Page.

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She was only two years old.

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Now…

On January 1, 2017, Madison County had a new sheriff,  Sheriff Rick Evans.

R Evans

K-9 Lina is finally listed on the MCSO Memorial page. In June 2017, a new K9 handler was announced on the MSCO website. Former Sheriff Phillip Morgan kept his word about having heat sensing equipment in the K9 vehicles:

Clint Ham, is our new K-9 Handler, he has been partnered up with Kandy, and equipped with a new vehicle which has been paid for with 100% drug forfeiture funds, the vehicle is equipped with all the latest equipment, including heat sensor/alarms which will signal the handler if the temperature in the vehicle rises to a dangerous level, in addition it will roll the windows down, and will activated lights and siren if the condition is not corrected. Kandy from all indication will be an outstanding asset to the Madison County Sheriff Office.

As for Deputy Jonathan Cornelison? He has been promoted and is now Corporal Cornelison.

K9 Lina Cornelison

 K-9

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

58249abc79c29.image copy

 

Lina, we haven’t forgotten… 

 

K9 Lina ~ The Blame Game Part 3…

K9 Lina ~ The Blame Game Part 3…

The conclusion of K9 Lina’s tragic story was so bizarre that it’s taken me awhile to not just fact check but to comprehend what I was reading. I had written about K9 Lina’s hot car death shortly after it happened in September 2016 but opted not to blog about it; in November I changed my mind. I began to research to so that I could bring my original story current. What I began to find, for the lack of a better word, disturbed me so I continued to dig even after posting The Senseless Death of K9 Lina…Part 1 . The very same day I made a startling discovery which I  briefly touched upon in my post  Made An Unusual Discovery . What I’d uncovered made it necessary to write a second post entitled Death of K9 Lina ~ The Aftermath Part 2. This will be (I hope) the final post in K9 Lina’s sad trilogy. I’m also going to deviate from my usual post style by  using less hyperlinks and photos because all the details leading up to the her death including the timeline of her handler has been given in the first two parts as well as photographs. Instead I’m going to focus on what I stumbled upon but first, how that came to pass..

In the first few days after K9 Lina’s hot car death hit the news, I was reviewing articles online and came across one called, Social Media Backlash Prompts Online Support Group After K9 Officer’s Death  , written by an Arkansas reporter on September 11 ~ two days after Lina died.  I don’t have an active Facebook account but wanted to see the “social backlash”  the article said was being generated on Facebook so asked my daughter if I could use her iPad for the afternoon. I quickly found  what I believed was the backlash; a public support group for Deputy Cornelison called Supporters Of Jonathan Cornelison  What I found particularly interesting is that the page was created on September 10, the day after K9 Lina’s death.

One thing led to another, like a domino effect but the single most riveting finding was that his support group members were adamant that the deputy was a good kid, this was an accident that could have happened to anyone, and the town was standing behind him. Many, many prayers were offered for this great guy yet none for K9 Lina. I was disgusted by the never-ending sanctimonious posts and stopped looking at the page. A few days later I caved, once again borrowed my daughters iPad and was immediately shocked by several things. A photo was posted by one of Deputy Cornelison’s  relatives of an ad she’d placed in the local paper about donating towards “Lina’s Law” plus  writing to the Arkansas state representatives about implementing a law requiring heat sensors in all K9 vehicles hence Lina’s Law. Even though the support page is public, I vacillated about posting screenshots. I am going to make an exception however with the one explaining Lina’s Law only because it also addresses another issue. I chose to cover her first name and photo but everything can be viewed on Supporters Of Jonathan Cornelison :

I also noticed that the number of group members had grown exponentially in just a few days but that the common theme remained; he’s a good kid, great guy, this wasn’t his fault and prayers. I must say, Madison County residents certainly stand by their man. Once again, barely a word about Lina or nary a prayer for her or how she suffered in a virtual oven of death. I noticed that the reporter of the article which first caught my eye was now a group member as were several MCSO employees. The consensus was that Sheriff Morgan was to blame for Lina’s death because he wouldn’t approve $700 to purchase a heat sensor device. Members posted that had they known the sheriff didn’t approve the cost they  would have donated the monies so a system could have been installed in the good kid’s vehicle. One of Deputy Cornelison’s  fellow K9 handlers addresses it here as well as on other areas of social media. I take umbrage at this handler’s posting because a heat sensor unit is meant to be utilized while the handler and K9 are working.  And while they’re also a virtual life saver if a K9 remains in a vehicle too long, I doubt they are meant to serve as a technical dog sitter in the middle of a very hot day for over five (5) hours while the handler is off duty and fixing lawnmowers, paying bills, meeting at a local sports bar and so forth. In my opinion that type of behavior is  irresponsible and negligent. While I am not a law enforcement officer, I have one in my immediate family plus have been friends with many over my life, especially during the years I was involved in Schutzhund training and competition with my own dogs. What this does tell me is that “great kid” aside, Deputy Cornelison had no strong ties to K9 Lina despite the fact that he was vocal about the need for a K9 and helped solicit funds to purchase her. When you train and handle a dog, they become just as close to you as any human partner. You wouldn’t lock your human partner in a car for hours and walk away from them. Not anywhere or anytime but especially not in a southern town nicknamed Crossroads of the Ozarks in 90 degree mid-day  heat! How can you forget you have a dog in your car? Not a misstep. Just ignorant and uncaring.

As I wrote earlier, the support group is public  so anyone can read it however in order to comment you must be a member. A relative of Deputy Cornelison (the same relative that put the Lina’s Law ad in the paper) posted on September 10 ~ the day the page was created, thanking everyone for their support of Cornelison. Then I saw it ~ staring at me from my laptop screen. I vividly remember the moment as confusion rapidly set in and my heartbeat quickened. A group member responded to the relative’s post of thanks. Who was this member? Close family of a disgraced former handler in a state over 300 miles away! This member went on to describe the disgraced handler, his dead K9, his family and his service record. Both family members commiserated  on how unfair it was to the officers and prayed. Honest to God I had to shut my laptop down because reading that exchange took K9 Lina’s saga completely over the top for me. I didn’t look at the support group for several days and when I did more shocks. Another close family member of the disgraced handler from 300 miles away was a group member as well who was commenting and receiving sympathy. I  actually wondered if  handlers whose K9 partners died because of the handler’s negligence reached out to each other through social media ~ something akin to a club or unofficial group.  Perhaps they do… Finally someone asked if anyone knew about a service for Lina but apparently no one did. On September 23, Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney for Washington County announced he was not pressing criminal charges against Deputy Cornelison because there was insufficient evidence to prove that he intended to hurt K9 Lina. Then on September 26, Sheriff Morgan announced the disciplinary action Deputy Cornelison would be subject to which included suspension without pay for 60 days. I checked the support group later in the week and found they had erupted in joy that no charges were brought. They also opened a bank account so that people could contribute to the Cornelison family as the deputy would be without pay for 60 days. The chatter blaming Sheriff Morgan for K9 Lina’s death continued and this was posted:

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I have no idea why or what led up to it but assume that, like most social media forums, there are an abundance of private conversations. Finally at the end of September into early October several group members commented on K9 Lina in passing. To be brutally honest by this time I was thoroughly sickened and disgusted by what I read and rarely looked at the support group. The defense of the “good kid”, sparse mention of his deceased K9 partner, blame shifting, Bible quotes, endless prayers for the deputy yet not for the dog who suffered horribly while the good kid ran around doing errands and having a meeting in a cool sports bar. Endless condemnation of people who don’t understand; of how great a guy he is, of how accidents can happen to anybody, of how the sheriff was responsible for K9 Lina’s death because he wouldn’t approve a $700 heat sensor system. The common theme of “a little mistake anyone could have made” and the myriad of excuses given!  The ugly  reality is a handler left his partner in a hot car too long because he FORGOT about her.  Yes, it’s a shame the vehicle wasn’t  safety-equipped but that’s not why Lina died. She died because she was left in a vehicle the handler knew had no backup heat sensors. She died because Deputy Cornelison FAILED to have his partners back!

Then finally! On November 15, Deputy Cornelison’s wife posted K9 Lina’s obituary and a link to her memorial which was held on November 12, 2016. One of the MCSO deputies commented “If you scroll to the bottom of the obituary there is a recording of her last call”; I chose not to.

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At this point I decided to blog K9 Lina’s tragic story if for no other reason than to try and make sense of it. However try as I might that never happened. I rarely looked at Deputy Cornelison’s support group because nothing changed. The members continued to support him by extolling his virtues (and to be fair he probably is a nice person), blame shifting was still there plus a plethora of excuses for this accident. Several spoke about how hard he worked which was also blamed on the sheriff, and how busy he was when not working as a deputy for MCSO. Life is hard these days for many people; long hours in a competitive world, children that need to be  driven to after school activities, and even like Jonathan Cornelison did on the day of Lina’s death ~ help a friend out. However none of that justifies  leaving a K9, your partner plus the taxpayers K9 dog, trapped in a hot vehicle during a hot day. His supporters repeatedly write “He’s only human” to which I say K9 Lina paid a devastating price because of his “humanity”.

A young beautiful dog is dead and the handler not only needs to take full responsibility for her death but he should be held criminally responsible. Because at the end of the day, a loyal K9 Officer suffered and died after being let down by the person she trusted most. To me that is a horrible mistake, not a little one to be trivialized by his Facebook supporters. Again I am not in law enforcement but if I was and one of my fellow officers left his K9 partner that long in a hot car with obviously no thought as to “where is my partner, and how is she doing”, I  would think twice about having him as my backup. However judging from the comments on his support page, I  seriously doubt that would ever happen.

 In Part 2  I posted a screenshot of The Madison County Record which went online approximately 1.5 hours after K9 Lina’s death. It said:

The Record received an anonymous tip from a person Friday afternoon stating that Lina’s death was from being left in the car. At that time, Morgan told The Record that the incident was under investigation and details surrounding the death were unavailable.

That has never been explained but on September 12, 2016 the MCSO gave a detailed release to the Madison County Record  of the financial costs involved in K9 Lina’s purchase and training.

The final twist in K9 Lina’s story? As of December 4, 2016 she is not listed on the

Madison County Sheriff Office Memorial page.

My closing thoughts on this senseless tragedy are as follows. This offense by Deputy Cornelison is multi-faceted. I can’t think of anything more offensive than to kill your partner, either by act or omission. For those who serve in the line of fire, they put near blind trust in their partners. To break that trust, even though their partner is a K9 Officer, becomes an issue for every other man and woman in the department. It begs the question “If you fail to protect your own partner, will you protect me when my back is turned?”
The other side of this issue is that a K9 is a significant investment for a department. The average cost of training and acquiring a K9 and then to train the K9 handler can cost in excess of $20,000. Then, depending on whether or not advanced training perhaps up to $30,000 on average.
If a law enforcement officer is found to be neglectful in the protection of his K9 partner he should be dismissed from his position as a K9 Handler and any other charges as deemed appropriate by the Prosecutor’s Office. He should not be allowed  a “pass go card”.

Instead, Deputy Jonathan Cornelison got a  Facebook support page which as of December 3, 2016 had 671 members which include the family of the disgraced handler 300 miles away.

Our planet is truly insane

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

lina-white

The Senseless Death of K9 Lina…Part 1

The Senseless Death of K9 Lina…Part 1

Madison County is in Northwest Arkansas and encompasses approximately  837 square miles. The last census from  2010 census indicates a population of 15,717. The  county seat is Huntsville, nicknamed the “Crossroads of the Ozarks“. Huntsville has a police department and coverage is also provided by the Madison County Sheriff’s Department (MCSO). The MSCO acquired  K9 Lina in either 2014 or 2015. As I’ve discovered since I started writing about K9 deaths, media reports often give conflicting information. I also learned that Arkansas does not  respond to FOIA requests  unless they are submitted by a resident of the state. What I do know is that through community donations , the MSCO was able to purchase a female  Belgian Malinois  from K9 Working Dogs International, LLC. located in Longford, Kansas. The website says that Police Dog Pricing ranges from $4,500.00 to $15,500.00 which is most likely based on how advanced the dog’s training is at time of purchase. I don’t know how much training K-9 Lina had  prior to joining Madison County, only that Deputy Cornelison trained to be her handler at K9 Working Dogs for three weeks. By the time she hit the road with her handler,  K-9 Lina was trained to track and detect narcotics. She also lived at his residence with his family and a family dog where she was housed in an outside kennel behind a barn.j-cornelison

What I DO know is that after being a K9 Officer for Madison County for one year, K-9 Lina died in Deputy Cornelison’s patrol vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria, on September 9, 2016.

Again, more mainstream media discrepancies as some report K-9 Lina remained inside the vehicle when Cornelison arrived home from work at 6 am until the discovery of her body at 2:45 – 3 pm. Others reported that Cornelison  took Lina out of the vehicle and kennelled her until he was called out to assist with an accident at which point he removed her from her kennel and to the wreck with him. So K-9 Lina was either trapped inside a hot car for approximately (8) hours or (6).

This is a stock photo of a Ford Crown Victoria ~ not one from MCSO or any agency involved in this case.indianapolis_metropolitan_police_cruiser_1

He parked the patrol car in his driveway at approximately 9 am after which he performed a variety of tasks such as driving in his truck to help a friend fix a lawnmower, pay his water bill, talk on the phone with a family member and other errands. It wasn’t until approximately 2:45 – 3 pm, after greeting his other dog that he realized K9 Lina was quiet in the kennel. That’s when Deputy Cornelison discovered K-9 Lina  dead inside the patrol vehicle, one that was NOT equipped with a heat sensor. The outside temperature that day was 91 degrees which means that the interior temperature would have reached  109 degrees within 10 minutes.

Excellent temperature graphs, illustrations, sources and video.

According to Sheriff Phillip Morgan, Deputy Cornelian was  in a “state of shock” upon finding K-9 Lina’s lifeless body. Sheriff Morgan also told the media that his deputies had been working 50 hour weeks due to under staffing and were overworked and sleep deprived. Deputy Cornelian was placed on paid leave while neighboring Washington County conducted an investigation.

p-morgan
Sheriff Morgan

I’ve read Deputy Jonathan Cornelison’s  timeline and as a nurse who has worked more than her share of long 12 -18 shifts with little sleep in between and a single parent of (3) children, I can understand part of it. The following however is where any similarities end:

Woke up at 6 a.m. Friday to take his kids to daycare, then responded to a wreck, with Lina in the back seat. Drove straight home, and went back inside at about 9 a.m.

At 9:50 a.m., he got a call to help his friend with a broken lawn mower. Ran errands until 1:40 p.m. and then met a Huntsville officer to review a DWI case. Returned home at about 2:45 p.m. and realized Lina was not in her kennel. Found her deceased in the back of his car.” Source: KHBS *Note It was 90 F the day of K9 Lina’s death

I don’t know where Deputy Cornelian originally hails from but I do know that he has lived in Arkansas for at least (9) years as he’s been employed by the Madison County Sheriff’s Dept. since 2007. That alone tells me he is more than familiar with the hot temperatures in a community whose motto is “Crossroads of the Ozarks”. The median temperature for early September in Huntsville is 80 – 88 F. Anyone should know that is too hot to allow a living animal or human to stay inside a car for more than a very brief time. But a LEO, who is trained to identify dangerous situations (hot cars being one of them) and to still leave his partner inside one is abhorrent. When he returned from the wreck, “with Lina in the back seat. Drove straight home, and went back inside at about 9 a.m.” He should have removed her from the vehicle the same time he removed himself. I do not buy into the overworked, tired, lack of sleep, skeleton crew excuses being offered by both the deputy and Sheriff Morgan; they are merely words being used to justify egregious behavior by a negligent handler. Deputy Cornelian knew it was hot out, as a LEO he inherently knew that hot cars are death traps, yet he still kept K-9 Lina inside a virtual oven while “At 9:50 a.m., he got a call to help his friend with a broken lawn mower. Ran errands until 1:40 p.m. and then met a Huntsville officer to review a DWI case. Returned home at about 2:45 p.m. and realized Lina was not in her kennel.” Source: KHBS

None of his actions during the time frame of nearly (6) hours were the those of a man so irrational from overwork and lack of sleep that his behavior can be considered innocent and K-9 Lina’s death merely an “accident” when in reality, it was a death sentence for her. This is blatant animal abuse ~ by cop. Which begs the question; how can we as a society trust an officer who is sworn to protect and serve us when he FAILS to protect the life of his own K9 partner?

On September 23,   Matt Durrett, 4th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney of Washington County,  announced that there was insufficient evidence to support an animal cruelty charge therefore Deputy Cornelian would not be charged. I do not concur with Prosecutor Durrett’s decision because criminal charges must be brought against the handler in this case. Otherwise, the negligent homicide of police dogs by human police officers will continue. My only solace is the knowledge and inherent belief that 90% of our law enforcement canine handlers are above reproach. Many would take a bullet for their partner. Once Prosecutor Durrett’s announced  that no charges would be forthcoming, Sheriff Morgan brought final disciplinary action against the deputy on September 26:

Deputy Cornelison will:
1. Be suspended without pay for 60 days.
2. Be removed from the K9 program.
3. Be decertified as a K9 Handler.
4. A letter of reprimand will be placed in his file.

A K9 Officer is a universal dog that can track, guard, catch and protect. A K9 Officer serves his duty just like any human officer. They will protect their handler with their life.

It is disheartening to know that the state of Arkansas takes hot car deaths so lightly. In August 2016, Hon. Wade Navamore , a circuit judge in Hot Springs,  was found innocent in the July 2015 death of his 17 month old son that he forgot in a hot car for (5) hours while at work.

The courtroom broke out in loud cheers as the verdict was read aloud by Special Judge John Langston. Naramore’s wife, Ashley, ran over to embrace her husband shortly after.

A sad indictment against the values and moral compass of one of America’s southern states.

I’ll leave you with this thought; think about being trapped in a hot car and fighting for every breath you could take until you just couldn’t breathe anymore and took your last one. Very heart wrenching and inexcusable!

lina-white

The first to sense the hostility of a suspect,

The first to react to protect his master.

The first to enter where danger lurks.

The first to detect the hidden intruder.

The first to take action against violence.

The first to sense his master’s joy.

The first to know his master’s sorrow or fear.

The first to give his life in defense of his master.

The last to be forgotten by those who work with others like him.

They know him as a “Partner,” not just an animal.

 

 

Next ~ Part 2: The aftermath of K9 Lina’s death

 

The Tragedy of K9 Bak…

The Tragedy of K9 Bak…

Several months ago I wrote a post entitled What Is It With These Psycho Cops??? which focused on K9 Bak of the Stephens County OK Sheriff’s Department. K9 Bak was 8 years old and had served with the Sheriff’s Department since he was 2. For the past four years, he was partnered with (former) Deputy Matthew Peck with whom he also resided. Coincidentally, both Bak and Peck had worked for the Sheriff’s Department for six years. According to Sheriff Wayne McKinney, K9 Bak was an excellent dual purpose dog used for detection and narcotics.

When former deputy Matthew Peck returned home from duty on August 3, 2016, he left K9 Bak in the vehicle for approximately 38 hours with no water, food or ventilation. He literally closed the car door and walked away. Even after everything I’ve written about this case I still cannot fathom what motivated Peck. I’ve read one or two media reports that said “people” had claimed that Peck had started leaving K9 Bak in the patrol car on his days off but I’ve encountered so many discrepancies with this case that I’m not sure what’s true and what’s not except that a noble K9 (also called a BlueDog) died an excruciating death, alone in a patrol car, when the outside temperatures hovered at 100 degrees.

On August 5, Peck returned to his vehicle and found his K9 partner dead inside at which point he notified Undersheriff John Smith. It was reported that as officers approached Peck’s vehicle they could smell a decomposing animal. An internal investigation was launched and Peck was terminated on August 8. A criminal investigation however continued and on August 29 District Attorney Jason Hicks office charged Matthew Peck with one count of cruelty to an animal, a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, and a fine of up to $5,000. Peck’s bond was set for $5,000 and his first appearance was yesterday,  November 2, at the Stephens County Courthouse. Court documents state that Peck found  K-9 Bak dead at approximately 10:40 a.m. August 5, 2016.

 In my original post on K-9 Bak, I  wrote about the physiological effect heat exhaustion has on a canine so won’t repeat it other than to say the dog suffers terribly. I have a feeling that K9 Bak was crated inside the patrol vehicle although I could be wrong. The reason I think this is twofold. If Peck truly had started leaving the dog in the vehicle on his days off it would be easier to clean urine and feces out of a crate as opposed to the car seat. Secondly, even if August 3 was the first time Peck left Bak in the vehicle, after 38 hours Peck would have opened the door to utter destruction yet none of the media reports mentioned a damaged car. A trapped canine will literally shred the interior of a vehicle in an attempt to escape the oppressive heat. As the heat rises, the trapped dog will claw, bite and/or try to chew their way out.

k9-officer-article-image

This is the interior of a police cruiser from Montville Township Police Department in Ohio. K-9 Beny was trapped inside the police vehicle for four hours on September 28, 2014, and died. As the heat rose, K-9 Beny, trapped inside the car, tried to claw, bite and chew his way out. The temperature that day was 80 degrees. His handler, Sgt. Brett Harrison was charged with two counts of animal cruelty but only found guilty of one. He remains a sergeant with the Montville PD but is no longer a handler.

 

 

This has been an unbelievingly difficult story to follow because of all the inaccuracies I’ve discovered. For example, in the hometown newspaper, The Duncan Banner, one article said that K-9 Bak died on August 5 yet another one of their articles said he died on August 24. Then there’s the mainstream media ~ the local affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. One would report that Peck discovered K9 Bak when he approached the vehicle that morning while another said:

On Friday morning, as Beck was driving to court, according to WXIN (Indianapolis), he noticed the smell coming from the back of his patrol car. On seeing the rotting body of his partner in the back, Peck went straight to his superior, Undersheriff John Smith.

I’ve often wondered how well reporters fact check because through my K9 advocacy work I find a multitude of errors and often one reporter writes verbatim what another reporter has already written. 

On November 2, Matthew Peck had a Preliminary Hearing Conference which I chose not to attend as it is very basic. At the conference, he was scheduled for a Preliminary Hearing in front of a Special Judge on November 30, 2016, at 9 am which I planned to attend. At this hearing, the prosecutor will prove to the judge that a crime was committed and witnesses will testify.  If the judge agrees then a trial date is set. Since Preliminary Hearing Conferences can be continued before the date it’s scheduled and often on the actual date, I was paying a bit extra to buy my plane ticket with cancellation insurance. I researched package deals last night (flight, hotel and car rental) and was going to make my purchase this afternoon. Then the email arrived from the assistant district attorney; Matthew Peck has been deployed and will be leaving before November 30. Amazing! Six years with the Sheriff’s Department and not once was he deployed but now that he’s facing a felony charge ~ poof. Did I also mention his father is with the OSP and he has a brother in law enforcement as well?

Peck was in the military at some point and probably remained active with the National Guard. Somehow it doesn’t seem right that he can leave with this charge pending but this is the United States where we are innocent until proven guilty.

Peck Military
Undated photo of Matthew Peck

So where do I go from here? With Peck deployed the trial will be postponed for a long time. Emotions surrounding K-9 Bak’s horrific death will go by the wayside. His name will come up in a Google search as he joins the growing list of K9s who die in hot cars; his life reduced to a mere number. People will move on and forget about a noble and devoted dog who contributed so much to both the Stephens County Sheriffs Department as well as the community he served faithfully for six years. And what about Matthew Peck? What made him so void of humanity that he could essentially murder his partner in such an unconscionable way?  What kind of human, especially one sworn to serve and protect, does something so savage?

Where did K-9 Bak come from? Was he imported as many working dogs are or were he from a United States breeder?  Where did he live/work prior to joining the department when he was 2? Was he fully trained when he became an officer for Stephens County? What was the plan for him as he approached retirement? There are too many questions that need to be answered and until they are, I simply cannot chalk Bak’s life up to a statistic and forget about it. I have come to care about this issue more than I intended when I first wrote about it. I’ve invested myself and simply put, need to see it through.

As for the ever-increasing number of K9 hot car deaths? Perhaps the only thing that could prevent 100% of these deaths is a policy that required officers to never leave a dog alone in a vehicle.

In closing, I read an article in September about how the community K9 Bak served united to honor him with a memorial. Such a beautiful act of compassion and love…



K-9 Bak

EOW August 5, 2016

Stephens County Sheriff’s Department

He has gone home to rest for the final time

“Officer Kilo Bak is 10-42 … Good Boy Bak”