Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott issued a written reprimand and one-day suspension to the K-9 handler of the dog that was shot at the JPD firing range two weeks ago.
Citing that the K-9, “Rocket,” was not leashed in accordance to policy, Elliott announced the reprimand and suspension without pay for Officer Jason Myers after an internal investigation was completed Tuesday.
The incident began at the firing range April 30, when Myers allowed Rocket off his leash for a short break following a course of training on the firing line. Meanwhile, training sergeant John Porbeck was test-firing a gun. The gunshot alerted the dog, which responded as it is trained to do, Elliott said.
As Rocket ran toward the source of the gunfire, the dog failed to respond to verbal commands from its handler and continued to pursue Porbeck from about 100 yards away. The dog lunged at Porbeck, but Porbeck dodged him. Then the dog attempted to re-engage and was shot in the shoulder.
After reviewing the investigation, Elliott determined that Myers should not have allowed the dog off its leash at a live-fire training event, even though Myers believed the session had ceased.
Elliott said Myers has been an exemplary K-9 handler for many years, but because of the outcome of this incident, a suspension is warranted.
“We as a department are very proud of and attached to our K-9 unit,” Elliott said. “We think of these dogs as a huge asset to our police department and the City of Jonesboro. Rocket is expected to make a full recovery and return to active duty. We appreciate the kind letters and support we have received during this time.”