A veteran Columbia police officer will not face charges after his K-9 partner died after being left unchecked for eight hours in a hot car.
Master Police Officer David Hurt was at an active shooter training at a high school July 26 when he left Turbo in a cruiser. He parked in the shade, left the air conditioning on and the rear windows down.
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However the car’s heat alarm, which activates a siren when inside the vehicle reaches a certain temperature, was turned off. It was 94 degrees that day, according to the National Weather Service.
“(Hurt) didn’t give any logical reason for why he deactivated the heat alarm,” police Chief Skip Holbrook said Thursday at a news conference.
Turbo was the first dog Hurt had handled and he went through hundreds of hours training before he started working with the 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, who trained in explosive detection and had been on the force seven months, The State reported.
Hurt did not take Turbo into the training because of the loud noises and crowd. There were other dogs in cruisers at the training, however, their handlers checked on them throughout the day.
Hurt asked another officer to check on Turbo around 11:30 a.m. and the dog seemed fine, The State reported. When Hurt left the training at 3:30 p.m., he found Turbo panting heavily and foam was around his mouth.
Hurt recognized the symptoms as heat stress and took turbo to a veterinarian. Turbo died two days later after suffering from organ failure.
Hurt used terrible judgment but wasn’t criminally negligent, an internal affairs report indicated.
Hurt will be suspended without pay for five days, suspended from the bomb squad and will never be allowed to handle a police dog.
“Officer Hurt was very emotionally attached ... this is not something that just goes away,” Holbrook said. “This is something he’ll live with.”
Holbrook said he did not fire Hurt because he immediately took responsibility.
"It was a mistake of the heart he will have to deal with the rest of his life," Holbrook said.
The department lost about $25,000 in training and other expenses in acquiring Turbo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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