Case Snapshot
Case ID: 12040
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment, Choking / Strangulation / Suffocation
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Lisa Aubuchon
Defense(s): Robert Kavanagh
Judge(s): Sam Goodman


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Saturday, Aug 11, 2007

County: Maricopa

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Acquitted
Case Images: 1 files available

Person of Interest: Thomas Lovejoy

Case Updates: 12 update(s) available

The Chandler police chief has spoken out for the first time since the death of a K-9 in the care of one of the department's officers. In a written statement released on august 15, 2007, Police Chief Sherry Kiyler said she appreciates the concerns expressed by citizens but will make sure her department's investigation is thorough. "The Chandler Police Department appreciates the concerns expressed by citizens regarding the tragic incident involving Sgt. Tom Lovejoy and his K-9 Bandit," the statement said. "This is a very difficult time and I clearly recognize the responsibility we have to thoroughly review this incident and respond appropriately." Kiyler added that the decisions investigators make will be based on a review of the entire circumstances of this incident.

The Belgian Malinois died after Lovejoy left the dog in his hot patrol car after returning home from work August 11, 2007. He apparently forgot that Bandit was in the vehicle, police said. He found Bandit dead when he returned to the car later in the day, officers said. The high temperature in Phoenix on Saturday was 109 degrees.

Lovejoy is currently on administrative leave, officers said. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said that it will conduct a criminal investigation into the dog's death. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the probe will help his office determine whether any criminal charges will be filed. "I take every potential animal abuse incident seriously," Arpaio said. "This is a sad situation, and without pointing a finger, my deputies will conduct a thorough and professional investigation into the matter," he said.

The Arizona Humane Society said it has been fielding calls from people who want the officer to face charges. County Attorney Andrew Thomas said laws on the matter are quite clear. The laws state that anyone who intentionally, knowingly or recklessly leaves an animal unattended and confined in a motor vehicle and physical injury or death to the animal is likely to result is guilty of animal cruelty. "That is a misdemeanor," Thomas said. "If it, in fact, leads to death of an animal, it can be a class 6 felony," Thomas said. No matter the outcome, Lovejoy's family said they're already suffering. They said Bandit was very much a part of their family.

In March 2007, another police dog died after being left in a hot patrol car. Phoenix police said that investigation is just wrapping up, and it looks as if the responsible officer will face a one-day suspension and a written reprimand, officers said.


Case Updates

To send a letter to the Justice of the Peace in this case, write to:

The Honorable Samuel T. Goodman
201 E. Chicago Street, Suite #102
Chandler, AZ 85225
Phone: 602-372-3400
Fax: 602-372-3441
Update posted on Aug 15, 2008 - 10:17PM 
Shouting and applause spilled out of a tiny Chandler courtroom on Friday as a veteran city police sergeant was acquitted on an animal cruelty charge in the death of his police dog.

Sgt. Tom Lovejoy and his family passed around hugs and handshakes after Justice of the Peace Sam Goodman made his ruling, bringing an end to almost exactly one year of turmoil and uncertainty in their lives.

"It's over," said Lovejoy's wife, Carolynn, as she accepted congratulations from more than a dozen police officers who attended the trial. "It's over."

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The judge's ruling was confirmation of the argument Tom Lovejoy and his defense attorney, Robert Kavanagh, made all along - the death of the dog inside a hot car last August was a mistake, not a crime.

"You forgot," Goodman told the sergeant right before giving his verdict. "Everybody here heard that and I believe it."

Maricopa County prosecutors had accused Lovejoy of reckless animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, in the Aug. 11, 2007, death of his K-9 partner Bandit.

Lovejoy had forgotten to take Bandit out of his police vehicle after working an overnight off-duty job and getting very little sleep the two days prior.

The dog was stuck inside the vehicle for nearly 13 hours during one of the hottest days last year. When Lovejoy discovered the dog that night, it was long dead from heat exhaustion.

Goodman's ruling came at the end of a full day of testimony by the sergeant's coworkers, family members, a certified psychologist, a detective and Lovejoy himself.

After the trial, Lovejoy stood outside of the San Tan Justice Court, just across the street from police headquarters, with his arm around his wife and talked to reporters.

"I'm elated," he said. "My family has done nothing but tell the truth about this from the beginning."

Prosecutor Lisa Aubuchon spent most of the morning trying to show Lovejoy as a man of distractions. She painted a picture of him spending his day gabbing on a cell phone, shopping at the mall, napping at home and dining out, all while his police dog baked to death.

"Common sense" and training, she said, meant Lovejoy was aware of the risk of forgetting his dog.

Had he been convicted, Lovejoy could have spent as long as six months in jail and paid a $2,500 fine.
Source: East Valley Tribune - June 27, 2008
Update posted on Aug 15, 2008 - 10:07PM 
A Chandler police sergeant whose police dog died when he forgot it in his patrol SUV for 13 hours heads to trial in Justice Court in Chandler on Friday.

Sgt. Tom Lovejoy was in charge of the K9 unit at the time of the dog's death last August. He has pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Deputies arrested Lovejoy on Sept. 5 on suspicion of animal abuse.

Lovejoy's 5-year-old Belgian Malinois died Aug. 11, 2007.

According to reports, Lovejoy had gotten only six hours of sleep in two days and left the sleeping dog in the back of his vehicle at 9 a.m.

Lovejoy was busy dealing with family matters throughout the day including an auto accident involving his stepson and his wife's anxiety attack before he found the dog dead inside the car late that night, reports said.
Source: MyFox Phoenix - Aug 13, 2008
Update posted on Aug 13, 2008 - 11:21PM 
The trial has been delayed for a Chandler police officer accused of animal cruelty in the death of his police dog last summer. Sgt. Tom Lovejoy had been scheduled to go to trial today in San Tan Justice Court in Chandler. However, a judge delayed the trial earlier this week, and no new date has been set, according to Lovejoy's wife, Carolynn.

Lovejoy was the head of Chandler's K-9 unit when he left his dog, Bandit, in the back of his squad vehicle for about 13 hours last August. He was later arrested by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor.

Lovejoy was removed from the special unit and now works on patrol.
Source: East Vakkey Tribune - June 27, 2008
Update posted on Jun 27, 2008 - 9:40AM 
After months of fighting to avoid being interviewed, Sheriff Joe Arpaio must give a deposition in the case of a Chandler officer whose police dog died last August while trapped in a hot patrol vehicle, a judge has ruled.

Lawyers for Sgt. Tom Lovejoy filed a motion in March asking Arpaio to answer questions about the case under oath. Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Lovejoy on Sept. 5 on suspicion of animal abuse after he left Bandit, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, in his patrol car for more than 12 hours.

In a ruling dated May 29, Judge Samuel Goodman of San Tan Justice Court ruled that Arpaio had two weeks to give the deposition.

Lovejoy's defense strategy is to show that the Sheriff's Office used selective enforcement, targeting Lovejoy despite the fact that three of the Sheriff's Office's police dogs have died under various circumstances since 2000 and no charges were filed in those cases.

Arpaio had argued he did not make the decision to arrest and book Lovejoy, even though he gave a news conference to answer questions after the arrest. Lawyers for the sheriff said in their response that Lovejoy filed the request "merely to be unreasonable and oppressive."

Lovejoy's attorney, Bob Kavanagh, said he intends to use information from the Arpaio interview to file a motion to dismiss the case based on the inconsistency in enforcement.

He acquired reports detailing the deaths of three Sheriff's Office dogs - Ranger, Dax and Brando - through an open-records request in January.

Ranger, a bloodhound, died on Dec. 26, 2006, from acute respiratory failure after battling valley fever. Dax, a Belgian Malinois, died Sept. 13, 2000, after a reported fall from a kennel. Reports say that a 2-gallon water bucket inside the kennel was empty and knocked over.

Brando, a German shepherd, died on Aug. 9, 2004, from heat exhaustion, in a case similar to Bandit's.

Sheriff's Sgt. Joseph McLemore left Brando in a shaded kennel with a full water supply at 5:30 p.m., but when McLemore returned at 8:10 p.m., he found the dog lying in his kennel, dead. The temperature that day rose to 112 degrees.

"We're hoping the judge will grant that motion, and if he doesn't, I guess we'll have the trial," Kavanagh said, declining to comment further.

Calls to the Sheriff's Office seeking comment were not immediately returned Monday.
Source: The Arizona Republic - June 3, 2008
Update posted on Jun 3, 2008 - 11:03PM 
The case of a Chandler K-9 officer whose dog died after he left it in a hot patrol vehicle for 13 hours last August will move forward, a San Tan Justice Court judge ruled Friday.

Sgt. Tom Lovejoy had asked that the animal cruelty charges be dismissed in early April, arguing he had simply forgotten the dog and not acted recklessly.

In the motion, Lovejoy's attorney, Robert Kavanagh, said his client had had little sleep, was distracted by family matters including his stepson's traffic accident, and that the dog was asleep in the car and hard to see.

But the judge sided with the county attorney's office, which argued that "as others have been convicted of reckless conduct in leaving children in the vehicle despite the defense that they forgot," Lovejoy was also responsible for the death of Bandit.

Kavanagh said he is still planning to file a second motion to dismiss the case based on what he called "selective enforcement" by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which has had three of its own dogs die under various circumstances since 2000.

Kavanagh is still fighting to interview Sheriff Joe Arpaio about the deaths and filed a motion to subpoena Arpaio in March. The judge has not yet issued a ruling on that motion.

Lawyers for the sheriff argue that Arpaio did not make the decision to arrest Lovejoy and shouldn't have to testify.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Lovejoy on Sept. 5 for leaving the 5-year-old Belgian Malinois in his patrol car on Aug.11.

The dog's death sparked outrage in the community. Lovejoy was removed from the unit and reassigned.

Lovejoy's trial on the misdemeanor charges is now set for June 27.
Source: AZCentral.Com - May 23, 2008
Update posted on May 28, 2008 - 6:35PM 
Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy will go on trial Jan. 10 for reckless animal abuse after he left his K-9 partner in a hot patrol car for more than 12 hours.

Lovejoy has pleaded not guilty.

Since his dog's death, Lovejoy has been working on a new system to prevent future heat deaths.

Right now, K-9 police vehicles have a hot pod, a heat-sensor alarm that goes off if the vehicle gets too hot.

The problem is when the vehicle is off, the system is off.

That's how Lovejoy's dog, Bandit, died.

The police dog stands on a weighted mat connected to the engine. When an officer turns off his vehicle, the air conditioning keeps running until the dog steps off the special mat.

Lovejoy says this simple system could have saved Bandit's life.

"I want to make sure something like this never happens again, and if we can do that with a piece of equipment, then that needs to be done," Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy started building the system just weeks after Bandit died. It's still a prototype, but his team hopes to have it installed in K-9 cars soon.

"He didn't do it to save face," Carolynn Lovejoy said. "He totally did it so this doesn't happen again."

Lovejoy can no longer work with the K-9 unit but says at least he can try to save another dog life.

"Through all this, I accept my responsibility and I accept my discipline," Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy is also hoping to help build a dog-safety system that's motion-censored.

His ultimate goal is to help develop a system that can be used for both dogs and kids.
Source: AZfamily.com - Oct 24, 2007
Update posted on Oct 25, 2007 - 12:26AM 
A Chandler police sergeant may have to wait three more months before he is tried on an animal cruelty charge stemming from the death of his police dog.

The attorney for Sgt. Tom Lovejoy filed a motion Wednesday morning requesting a mid-January trial in the San Tan Justice Court.

Lovejoy is accused of killing Bandit, his police K-9 partner, by leaving the dog in a closed car for 13 hours in August.

Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor offense. A conviction in the case would carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail.
Source: East Valley Tribune - Oct 24, 2007
Update posted on Oct 24, 2007 - 10:33PM 
Chandler police Sgt. Tom Lovejoy will serve a two-day suspension without pay and never work on the department's K-9 unit again, police announced Friday after an inquiry into the death of his K-9 partner, Bandit.

Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler said in a statement that the suspension was for "conduct unbecoming and neglect of duty."

Bandit died in August after being left in a car for more than 12 hours.
Source: AZCentral - Oct 19, 2007
Update posted on Oct 20, 2007 - 6:34PM 
Court contact information for this case is as follows:

Courthouse:
San Tan Justice Center
201 East Chicago Street
Chandler, AZ 85225
Phone: 602-372-3400

Court Date: Arraigned Tuesday, 9/25/2007
Next Court Date: Pre-trial conference on 10/24/2007 at 10 a.m.

Case # 2007-157893

Maricopa County Media Relations:
Ms. J.W. Brown
Phone: 602-506-7378

Prosecutor:
The Honorable Andrew Thomas
Deputy County DA
301 West Jefferson Street, Suite 800
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Phone: 602-506-3411
Fax: 602-506-8102

Judge:
The Honorable Samuel Goodman
San Tan Justice Center
201 East Chicago Street
Chandler, AZ 85225
Phone: 602-372-3400
Source: Case # 2007-157893
Update posted on Sep 26, 2007 - 1:03AM 
He's at the heart of a growing law-enforcement clash, an outraged public and a media frenzy. Bandit, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois police K-9, died Aug. 11 after his Chandler police handler, Sgt. Tom Lovejoy, forgot him in a hot police vehicle for more than 12 hours.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police blasted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio for arresting Lovejoy on suspicion of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor.

And a detailed report from Arpaio's office offered new insight into Lovejoy's actions and how the Chandler Police Department responded in the immediate aftermath.

Among the key findings:

A Chandler police commander took the dog's body to an animal hospital late that Saturday night to have it cremated prior to a formal investigation, then cleaned out Lovejoy's patrol vehicle with bleach and water.

A fellow K-9 officer, who was the first to respond to Lovejoy's home after the dog's body was discovered, believed Lovejoy was so distraught over the dog's death that he asked Lovejoy's wife to hide his service weapon, fearing Lovejoy might harm himself.

Lovejoy had only slept six hours in the two days leading up to the incident, partly because he worked two different extra-duty shifts. He was so tired he fell back asleep and had to be called a second time on his cellphone by dispatch early that morning to respond to what police believed was a sighting of the Chandler serial rapist, still on the loose.

The same day of the arrest, Sept. 5, Arpaio held a media conference discussing Lovejoy, citing that 98 percent of animal-abuse suspects are booked into jail facilities and the rest are cited.

Two police unions have since issued statements decrying Arpaio's decision.

"If an official charge was in order, a citation or summons was most appropriate, and the situation did not warrant a full custody arrest and booking into your jail facility," read a statement released Wednesday by the state police chiefs group. "It is inconceivable to this Association that the merits of this case did not fall within the 2 percent of cases in which you would cite and release."

Chandler's police union earlier issued two statements, calling the Sheriff's Office's decision unfair.

The group's president, Paul Babeu, added in a Monday press conference: "Clearly the agenda here is not as clean as we expect . . . now we have an elected official who is seeking another term, who is seeking headlines."

Arpaio says he doesn't treat anyone differently, even if they are law enforcement officers, and that he's not the one seeking press coverage through news releases.

"I'm a little upset at this chiefs of police association for going after me, criticizing my policies," Arpaio said Wednesday. "I don't criticize how they run their departments.

"No police chief or bureaucrat is going to tell this sheriff how to do his job."

Chandler police Cmdr. Joe Gaylord, who responded to the scene that night after Lovejoy discovered the dead dog, and Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler declined to comment on the report Wednesday, said Sgt. Rick Griner, a Chandler police spokesman. City spokesman Jim Phipps said Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn and City Manager Mark Pentz are waiting for the results of the Chandler Police Department's internal investigation before they comment.

The sheriff's report shows that the morning of Aug. 11 was hectic for Lovejoy and the afternoon was busy but leisurely and included looking at dogs at Maricopa County Animal Care & Control for police-dog prospects. When he finally discovered Bandit's body later that night, Lovejoy was distraught.

At 10:05 p.m., Lovejoy went to his police vehicle to retrieve items for the next day and noticed the stench that smelled like "stale hot water" and "a shape" in the back, the report shows. At first he thought it was a T-shirt or towel that Bandit pulled from elsewhere in the car. Lovejoy turned on the lights and realized it was Bandit.

"Sgt. Lovejoy tells me he is in immediate disbelief," said sheriff's Detective R. Simonson in his report. "He couldn't understand how the dog got in the vehicle . . . (his daughter) went into the house and was wailing that Bandit's dead."

In the report, Gaylord does not explain why he decided to take Bandit's body to a veterinarian's office to be cremated within hours of the discovery.

Gaylord took digital photos of the scene and the vehicle. He told sheriff's investigators he believed disposing of the dog's body was in the best interest of Lovejoy, because the sergeant was distraught. Gaylord also said he determined that night that based upon how Phoenix police handled a similar incident with a K-9 death earlier in the year, there would be no need for a criminal investigation, and that Chandler police would conduct an internal investigation.

Gaylord paid $299 to the animal clinic that night for cremation, using a city-issued credit card, then paid extra from his own funds to purchase an urn for the dog's ashes, which he planned to give to Lovejoy.

Lovejoy is scheduled to appear in county court in Chandler on Sept. 25 at 9 a.m.
Source: AZCentral - Sept 13, 2007
Update posted on Sep 13, 2007 - 4:23PM 
The Chandler police officer whose police dog died after being left in a patrol vehicle for 13 hours has been arrested in connection with the incident. Maricopa County sheriff's investigators have determined a Chandler police officer was reckless when he left his police K-9 in his patrol vehicle for 13 hours, causing the dog to die.


On September 5, 2007, Sgt. Tom Lovejoy was arrested for animal cruelty.


Sheriff Joe Arpaio said it remains unclear why Lovejoy left Bandit, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, in the vehicle Aug. 11. Arpaio said he believes the officer has suffered from the loss, but must be treated like anyone else and face the misdemeanor charge. Arpaio announced the arrest in a news conference, stating that the decision was difficult and calling it "a sad situation."


Lovejoy, the 39-year-old supervisor of the Chandler K-9 unit, was booked into an east Mesa jail. His status late Wednesday was not immediately available.


Conviction of animal cruelty is punishable by a maximum term of six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Chandler police Chief Sherry Kiyler kept her comments brief. "As a department, we respect and support the criminal justice systems and processes in place," said Kiyler in a written statement. "We remain saddened by the loss of K9 Bandit." The department refused to comment further.


The Chandler police is continuing an internal investigation into Bandit's death to determine if Lovejoy violated any department policies. Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn would not say whether he thinks it's appropriate for the sheriff's office to charge Lovejoy. But, he did say it was more of a "personnel matter." "I do think that our investigation is more appropriate and will get into the facts a little better," Dunn said.


Former Chandler police officer and current City Councilman Lowell Huggins called the arrest "ridiculous," saying Lovejoy should have been cited with a misdemeanor and let go. "I actually like Joe, but this seems like it's a publicity stunt to grab headlines," Huggins said. Arpaio said anyone who violates the animal cruelty law is susceptible to arrest and jail time.


Three days after Bandit died and after Chandler police said there would be no criminal investigation, the sheriff's office began to look into Bandit's death which occurred on a Chandler county island. Investigators searched computers, cell phone records and talked to Lovejoy, Arpaio said. They determined that after working an extra assignment Lovejoy had returned to his home at 9 a.m. and left Bandit in his police sport utility vehicle parked outside. At 9:40 a.m., he left the home with his daughter in his personal vehicle. After 15 minutes he received a call that his son was in a wreck and suffered minor injuries. He headed to Gilbert to make sure everything was OK, but by 10:10 a.m. was returning home. Lovejoy also took a nap and dined out with his wife that evening, Arpaio said. It wasn't until 10:10 p.m. that he headed to the police SUV and found Bandit dead. "How any dog owner could forget about a dog for 13 whole hours is the most puzzling and most troubling part of this case," Arpaio said.


Bandit's death presented the first blemish on Lovejoy's police department record which showed he had received numerous commendations from officers and the public in his 16-year career.
Source: East Valley Tribune - September 6, 2007
Update posted on Sep 6, 2007 - 8:55PM 

References

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