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Arkansas deputy won't face charges in death of police dog left in hot car

by Bill Bowden | September 24, 2016 at 5:33 a.m. | Updated September 26, 2016 at 5:45 a.m.

No charges will be filed against a Madison County deputy who left a police dog in his car on a hot day, causing the animal's death.

"There is insufficient evidence of his intent to support an animal cruelty charge, so we are not filing anything on him," Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Durrett said Friday.

Durrett is the prosecutor for Arkansas' 4th Judicial District, which includes Madison and Washington counties.

Deputy Jonathon Cornelison has been on paid administrative leave since the Sept. 9 instance that resulted in the death of Lina, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois.

According to an investigation by the Washington County sheriff's office, Cornelison had been awake for about 28 hours straight Sept. 8. He got off work around 3 p.m. and went to bed at 9:30 p.m. He woke up at 6 a.m. Sept. 9 still groggy. That day, a Friday, was his normal day off.

He drove his children to day care, then received a call from the Arkansas State Police for assistance with a known drug user, according to a report from Washington County detective Taylor Reed.

Cornelison went home, loaded Lina into his patrol car and went to help the state police. After that, he drove straight home.

"When he arrived home, he thought he had put Lina in her kennel before going inside around 9 a.m.," Reed wrote. But the dog was still in the back of the patrol car.

At 9:50 a.m., Cornelison received a call from a friend who needed help with a lawn mower. So Cornelison got in his pickup and drove to his friend's house, according to Reed's report.

From there, Cornelison ran several errands in his pickup, including some that were work-related, before returning home around 2:30 p.m. and finding Lina dead in his patrol car. The high temperature on Sept. 9 was 91 degrees, according to Reed's report.

Madison County Sheriff Phillip Morgan didn't return a voice mail message left Friday to ask if and when Cornelison would be returning to work.

Morgan earlier described the dog's death as "a bad accident." Morgan told investigators that Cornelison "was beside himself because of the mistake."

Dr. Bonnie McLaughlin at Huntsville Veterinary Clinic said Lina died of heatstroke, according to the police report.

Lina was the only police dog at the Madison County sheriff's office.

Cornelison has worked for the sheriff's office since 2007. He also works with the 4th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

Sgt. Russell Alberts of the Madison County sheriff's office described Cornelison as "one of the best law enforcement officers in the county," according to the investigation report.

Metro on 09/24/2016

Print Headline: Deputy won't face charges in police dog death

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