City News Service

Long Beach Police Dog Death Investigative File Submitted to DA

Amid ongoing probes into the heat-related death of a Long Beach Police Department drug detection K-9, officials said Tuesday that the "initial criminal investigative file" has been submitted to the district attorney's office for review.

Both criminal and administrative investigations are being conducted into the death of Ozzy, who was found by his handler about 3:40 p.m. on Aug. 14, a day when the high in Long Beach reached 89 degrees.

On Aug. 28, the LBPD said an investigation into the death was being conducted by the department's Internal Affairs division. Police said earlier they believe the dog's death might have involved malfunctioning equipment.

"The initial criminal investigative file was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Justice System Integrity Division for review on Friday, September 13, 2019," according to an LBPD statement released Tuesday. "The police department will be notified once the District Attorney's Office completes their review to determine next steps."

The LBPD tweeted on Aug. 23 that "Ozzy & his handler were both off-duty and Ozzy was inside the officer's department issued K-9 vehicle. The death was immediately reported to the LBPD and a review into the circumstances was initiated."

A local veterinarian determined the cause of death was heat-related, according to an LBPD spokeswoman. Ozzy's handler has been temporarily reassigned to the department's Investigations Bureau, police said.

Ozzy was in a department-issued vehicle equipped for K-9 officers, and part of that special equipment is a cooling system that is not supposed to shut off unless it is manually disabled.

In addition, handlers have apps on their phones that are supposed to alert them if their cars get too hot.

"At this time, we believe this alert may not have been working," police said earlier.

While the investigations continue, K-9 handlers have been told to make sure the cooling systems in their cars are working before every shift, according to the department.

Ozzy, who was part Belgian Malinois and part German Shepherd, worked in drug investigations and had been on the force more than five years. Ozzy is not the only LBPD K-9 to die suddenly in the last few years.

In 2016, the K-9 Credo was killed by friendly fire while officers were trying to detain a knife-wielding man named Barry Prak, who was also killed by the gunfire, according to authorities.

Animal rights advocates had sent a letter to District Attorney Jackie Lacey asking for a criminal investigation into Ozzy's death.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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