Charged with animal cruelty and assaulting a public safety dog, a Ramsey County deputy agreed to plead guilty on Tuesday to animal cruelty after a casino surveillance camera captured him repeatedly striking his K-9 partner. Although he admitted to beating his police dog while drunk, the deputy continues to work at the sheriff’s office.
On June 15, 2015, the Carlton County Sherriff’s Department responded to the Black Bear Casino and Resort in Minnesota on a report of animal cruelty. While attending K-9 seminars and certification trials at the resort with other deputies, Ramsey County sheriff’s deputy Brett Berry was asked to leave the casino lounge after harassing a number of guests with “unwanted advances” reportedly committed by Berry. According to Black Bear security, Berry made obscene gestures to them before walking back to his hotel room.
A few moments later, a security camera in the casino’s parking lot recorded a video of Berry dragging his K-9 partner, Boone, across the lot. Intoxicated and sexually frustrated, Berry launched an unprovoked assault against his police dog by choking Boone and striking him incessantly. Although Boone attempted to escape, the dog became trapped in a vestibule, where the inebriated deputy escalated the despicable assault.
Sent home from the trials and placed on administrative leave, Berry was later charged with animal cruelty and assaulting a public safety dog as video of the incident became public. Boone was immediately transferred to the care of another K-9 handler within the sheriff’s office.
On Tuesday, Berry agreed to plead guilty to animal cruelty on the condition that the prosecutor will drop the assault charge. Berry’s sentencing date is scheduled for February 17. He faces a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Although Berry confessed that he was “blackout drunk” while both assaulting a fellow officer and striking his innocent dog, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office has not terminated the deputy for his reckless behavior. Instead of losing his job, Berry has been reassigned due to the fact that he can no longer be trusted around police dogs.
“If striking a dog while you were drunk, which is not OK, is the worst thing that any human being does in their lifetime, then they’ve led a pretty good life,” stated Berry’s attorney Kevin Short.
Although Berry’s attorney has no moral qualms in defending an admitted animal abuser, the citizens of Ramsey County do bear the responsibility of questioning whether they should place their trust in an emotionally unstable law enforcement officer caught ruthlessly beating his own K-9 partner.