Chandler officer acquitted in K-9's death considering lawsuit

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azfamily.com

CHANDLER -- The Chandler officer acquitted of an animal cruelty charge in the death of his K-9 partner is considering a lawsuit of his own.

Lovejoy: Case was a publicity stunt
azfamily.com

Sgt. Tom Lovejoy and his wife Carolynn believe the case mounted against the veteran officer was nothing more than a big publicity stunt by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Lovejoy has been in the news since leaving Bandit, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, in a hot car for more than 12 hours last August. An investigation by the Chandler Police Department found Lovejoy's actions to be negligent but not reckless.

A year later, the case finally went to trial. On Friday, a jury found Lovejoy not guilty of misdemeanor charges.

Now the veteran officer is saying he believes he was targeted by the sheriff's office to gain publicity -- and votes.

Lovejoy says that during the past year, he's seen the worst side of Valley law enforcement. He's accusing the sheriff's office of stonewalling his defense team and publicly disgracing him.

The sheriff's office denies Lovejoy's allegations.

ORIGINAL STORY

CHANDLER -- The Chandler police officer who was accused of animal cruelty when his K-9 partner died after being left in a hot car for hours was found not guilty Friday afternoon.

As he walked into the courthouse Friday morning, Sgt. Tom Lovejoy said he was hoping for justice.

Lovejoy was facing animal cruelty charges in connection with Bandit's death last August.

Lovejoy reportedly forgot Bandit was in his patrol vehicle. By the time he remembered -- more than 12 hours later -- the 5-year-old Belgian Malinois was dead.

An internal investigation by the Chandler Police Department determined that Lovejoy's actions were negligent, but not reckless. There is no law against negligent animal abuse.

He was suspended two days and reassigned from the K-9 unit.

The charges on which Lovejoy was tried came from Maricopa County.

On Friday, prosecutors said Lovejoy was reckless and that's animal cruelty.

Lovejoy's attorney said it was just a terrible accident and that he had no idea Bandit was still in the SUV.

Lovejoy's attorney said the officer had only had a few hours of sleep, was dealing with family issues, had picked up an extra duty shift, and truly thought he had put Bandit in his kennel when he arrived home.

Lovejoy faced up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Since Bandit's death, Lovejoy has spent a good deal of time creating a safety-alert system. He hopes that system will help save the lives of others dogs, as well as children, left in hot vehicles.