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Monday, March 23, 2009

Police officer charged with beating his two dogs-judge returns dogs to him!

A Newport News police officer has been charged with two counts of animal cruelty following complaints that he beat his two dogs.

According to a criminal complaint filed at General District Court, Rashad I. Brown, 32, a Newport News police officer since June 2005, admitted that he beat his dogs — a black Labrador retriever and a Boston terrier — with a hard plastic stick.

"He stated ... that it is not against the law to beat your dogs or kids in Virginia, (and that) he knows this because he is a cop," said the complaint, filed by Newport News Animal Control Officer Angie Gromlich.

William S. Wise, the superintendent of animal services, said in a statement that a call came into the city's animal control division on March 8. The caller said he or she witnessed a man kicking one of his dogs and heard him beating another at his apartment on St. Thomas Drive, in the Oyster Point area.

Upon responding to the scene, Brown encouraged his Lab, "Lilly," to act aggressively toward her, Gromlich wrote in the complaint.

First, she said, he commanded his dog in Spanish to come out of the apartment and get near the animal control officer. The dog obeyed, growling aggressively, the complaint said.

The animal control officer said she then asked Brown "several times" to confine the dog inside.

Instead, with the dog's nose only two or three inches from the animal control officer, Brown "was laughing and reinforced (the dog's) aggressive behavior" by telling her 'Good girl, good girl," in English, the complaint said.

"Mr. Brown stated that she was doing what she was supposed to do, that he had trained her to be aggressive, and this is what he wanted her to do," Gromlich wrote.

The animal control officer said in the complaint that she felt cornered and feared the dog would attack her.

Brown finally placed the dog inside, the complaint said. Gromlich and another animal control officer seized both animals from the property, and took them to a veterinarian.

Fresh abrasions and bruises on the dogs were "consistent with being struck by an object and kicked," Gromlich wrote.

Brown, who is a patrol officer for the Newport News Police Department, has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. He is scheduled to appear in General District Court on March 26.

A woman living in the apartment, Crystal Brown, was charged with one count each of having no license for a dog and no rabies vaccination, Wise said. Police spokesman Lou Thurston said that Brown, who patrols in the city's north precinct, is still on duty.

Brown now faces two counts of animal cruelty, according to court records. Those are Class 1 misdemeanors, carrying a maximum of 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500.

In addition to those penalties, the court might require someone convicted of animal cruelty to "attend an anger management or other appropriate treatment program or obtain psychiatric or psychological counseling," according to state code.

Brown was at Thursday's General District Court hearing, during which Judge Alfred O. Masters, Jr. determined to return the dogs.

"The law requires a hearing after a short period of time after the seizure (of the dogs)," Chief Deputy City Attorney Allen Jackson said. "The judge made the decision."

The charges are state code violations but could become city code violations, instead.

"We expect we will become involved," Jackson said.

After the incident, the two dogs were removed and taken to a veterinarian, who found "fresh abrasions and bruising consistent with being struck with an object and kicked," according to the complaint.

Brown, who's been with the Police Department since 2005, is scheduled to appear in General District Court on March 26. He's the sixth Newport News police officer since August to face criminal charges.


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