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story.lead_photo.caption K9 officer Rocket and his handler Jason Myers

A northeast Arkansas police department suspended an officer after his unleashed dog ran toward gunfire at a shooting range and another officer shot it in the shoulder, officials said.

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott said Tuesday that he suspended Officer Jason Myers after he brought his police dog Rocket to a shooting range late last month. Officials said the dog ignored its trainer’s commands, ran out of a vehicle into oncoming gunfire and lunged at an officer before it was shot.

Elliot issued a written reprimand and suspended Myers for one day without pay, saying he should have put a leash on the dog despite the officer believing the shooting exercises had stopped.

“Myers has been an exemplary K-9 handler for many years, but because of the outcome of this incident, a suspension is warranted,” the department said in a statement.

The dog was released from an animal hospital after undergoing surgery, and a full recovery is expected.

The shooting prompted city leaders to examine how the police department releases information following a groundswell of community criticism that mainly touched on the delay in detailing publicly what happened.

Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin vowed to make all incident reports available on the department’s website.

"Unfortunately, a perception has developed that our police department is not fully transparent," Perrin said in a recent statement. "This has come to my attention through conversations with our residents, but also in opinions expressed by our local news media."

City officials haven't set a timetable for the changes.

The shooting happened on April 30, but police didn’t release information about it until last week. NEA Report, an online news site covering northeast Arkansas, first reported the shooting.

A police spokeswoman cited an internal investigation that concluded on Tuesday for the delay in releasing information.

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Comments

  • MaxCady
    May 15, 2019 at 5:12 p.m.

    Looks like a Belgian Malinois. Those dogs are temperamental and aggressive.

  • LR1955
    May 15, 2019 at 5:54 p.m.

    So did the dog run thru the range and get shot by a range shooter accidentally or did the dog get shot as it lunged at a range shooter who was kind of afraid of the dog. The facts still aren’t clear.
    Recently a police officer, in Conway I seem to remember, shot a small dog that was yapping at his feet, in the presence of the little dog owner.

  • LR1955
    May 15, 2019 at 5:59 p.m.

    From the Jonesboro PD website:
    The incident began at the firing range April 30, when Myers allowed Rocket off his leash for a short break following a course of training on the firing line. Meanwhile, training sergeant John Porbeck was test-firing a gun. The gunshot alerted the dog, which responded as it is trained to do, Elliott said.
    As Rocket ran toward the source of the gunfire, the dog failed to respond to verbal commands from its handler and continued to pursue Porbeck from about 100 yards away. The dog lunged at Porbeck, but Porbeck dodged him. Then the dog attempted to re-engage and was shot in the shoulder.

  • Jfish
    May 15, 2019 at 6:41 p.m.

    I would guess the officer had a temporary lapse in judgment. Sounds like they are handling it appropriately, fortunately the dog was not killed.

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