He concluded he couldn't use a firearm in a neighborhood to dispatch a mortally injured dog.

Therefore, contending he wasn't told during training of any alternatives, Flagstaff police officer bludgeoned, stomped and strangled a dog to death.

Now, it's up to the Navajo County Attorney to decide if any criminal charges apply in the matter involving Cpl. John Tewes.

Coconino County Sheriff's Office detectives have released their investigation into the incident. The report confirms witnesses' accounts of the incident, which happened Sunday, Aug. 19, at about 3 a.m.

According to police supervisors interviewed by detectives, Tewes did not follow Flagstaff Police Department policy, which allows for a dog to be killed with either a sidearm or a shotgun. All six of the other police officers and supervisors interviewed in the report indicated that Flagstaff Police Department policy is to kill a mortally-wounded animal with either a sidearm or a shotgun.

Five of the six mentioned that either the city's animal control officer or the Humane Association and Canyon Pet Hospital, both of which have 24-hour support, could be contacted to euthanize a dog.

VETS ALSO ON CALL

Michelle Ryan, director of operations at the Coconino Humane Association off Butler Avenue, told the Daily Sun Saturday that police dispatchers call the shelter regularly with reports of late-night injured animals.

"When an animal is injured, they can bite," Ryan said. "We have people trained to deal with those kind of situations."

The shelter will send out at any hour an employee to either bring the animal back to the shelter to be euthanized with a drug or, if medical attention is warranted, to a veterinary clinic.

Several clinics have on-call vets who will attend to injured animals at night.

Ryan said she was unaware of the details of the Tewes case but said the use of a firearm in dispatching a severely injured and suffering animal in the field is considered humane.

She said batons are used by police for personal safety against aggressive animals, and she was unaware of any other weapons or objects other than a firearm approved for use in euthanizing an animal in the field.

NOT AWARE OF ALTERNATIVES

But Tewes' attorney, Bryon Middlebrook, said his client was not aware at the time of alternatives other than killing the animal in the field himself.

"He was informed of the alternatives after the fact," Middlebrook said. "If this was a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, this would have been a real quick execution. You're trying to put this dog out of its misery really quickly."

None of the officers involved in the incident thought that Tewes attempted to kill the dog with a baton for any reason other than to put it out of its misery.

The report stated Tewes didn't want to shoot the dog in a residential neighborhood for safety reasons, but "things didn't go as he had planned."

Tewes regularly kills coyotes on hunting trips by clubbing them after they have been shot, and he expected it would be a quick death, he said in an interview with detectives. Both he and the officer who hit the dog were shocked when it didn't die.

"Tewes stated that he was thinking that he could not believe the dog wasn't dead yet and it was the most bizarre thing," the sheriff's office report stated.

He told investigators he didn't ask other officers for advice about other methods because he thought he knew how to do it.

It was the first dog Flagstaff police have had to euthanize this year, a supervisor stated in the report.

DOG STRUCK

A 24-year-old Flagstaff police officer said he called his supervisor, Tewes, after the Blue Tick Heeler, named Blue, darted out in front of his patrol car en route to a domestic violence call nearby.

Tewes arrived on scene and found the dog was bleeding from its eyes and head and taking very shallow breaths. Both officers thought Blue was mortally wounded.

"Corporal Tewes then decided to strike the dog in the head with his baton, thinking that it would put the dog out of its misery and kill the dog quickly," the officer who struck the dog with his vehicle told investigators.

The supervisor struck Blue three or four times with the baton and knocked the dog unconscious. They then noticed Blue was still breathing, and Tewes again started hitting him with the baton until it looked like Blue was dead, the report stated.

The officers told investigators they put gloves on and moved the dog off the street next to a trash can before noticing its chest was still moving up and down. Tewes again hit the dog with the baton. It still would not die.

The first officer said that was when Tewes pulled out his hobble -- a steel-cable restraining device -- and tried to strangle the dog for several minutes. The dog was still alive, so the pair repositioned the hobble and again strangled the dog until it was dead.

OWNERS FIND DOG

According to an animal control officer quoted in the report, the dog's body was left between two vehicles with the hobble still around its neck behind the Coconino County Search and Rescue building, which is near the police station.

The animal control officer was told to move the dog's body to the Coconino Humane Association so it could be kept in cold storage in case it was needed for the investigation.

Ryan confirmed Saturday the dog's body was still at the shelter.

Police did not inform the dog's owners that one of their officers had killed the dog until the owners had identified Blue in a cooler at the shelter when they asked about their lost dog.

The owners said Blue often gets off his dog zip-line and jumps the fence.

A neighbor told the Daily Sun her husband came out while the officers were standing with the injured animal and told police where the dog lived. The officers told the witness he should go back into his home.

The case was forwarded to the Coconino County Attorney's Office this week for charging.

CASE CONFLICT

Prosecutors conflicted out of the case Thursday, according to officials.

"The Navajo County Attorney has agreed to review the allegations of animal cruelty on a conflict basis," said Coconino County Attorney David Rozema.

The Attorney's office often conflicts out of cases involving area law enforcement.

Tewes is also facing potential charges of making threats against his ex-wife.

The corporal's ex-wife had been awarded a restraining order against him last week after she told a Coconino County Superior Court judge he was driving by her house too often and was a threat to her children because of the way he treated animals, according to Tewes' attorney. She cited the animal cruelty allegation as her reasoning.

She also claimed that a Sheriff's office official told her they were investigating threatening comments he made about her.

Middlebrook said the restraining order was lifted Thursday, after Tewes challenged the order.

"After the hearing, the court dismissed with prejudice each and every one," Middlebrook said.

The sheriff's office investigation into the threats was not available in time for this story.

Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or ebetz@azdailysun.com.

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