VIERA, Fla. — A judge in Brevard County threw out the case of a Sebastian police officer charged with animal cruelty in the death of his K-9 partner.
- Eric Antosia was charged in the death of his K-9 partner
- Prosecutors say Antosia left his dog inside a hot patrol vehicle
- Jury selection beings in trial of Sebastian officer whose K-9 died inside patrol car
Judge Kelly Ingram on Thursday acquitted Eric Antosia after defense attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the case on lack of evidence. But the dog's death is still heavy on the hearts of the police department and the officer's family.
Antosia is accused of leaving his K-9 "Diesel" in his police vehicle outside the Indian River Courthouse in Vero Beach on April 28, 2017. Prosecutors say Antosia was inside for a hearing, while Diesel stayed behind in the vehicle.
The SUV Antosia was using that day was a back-up vehicle, while his regular vehicle was being serviced. Later in the afternoon on April 28, the dog was found dead in the back-up vehicle parked in the officer’s driveway.
Prosecutors also say the high temperature that day was 88 degrees.
Cpl. Richie Revis testified he received a distraught call from Antosia.
“He was very distraught, garbled something about a dog," Revis said.
Revis also testified that the vehicle's safety system, designed to alert officers when the interior got too hot, was not on.
The defense argued investigators could not establish a timeline of Diesel's death.
"They failed to prove where Diesel died, why Diesel died, or when Diesel died," said Antosia's attorney Greg Eisenmenger.
Antosia had no comment after the case was dismissed, but Eisenmenger said, "(Antosia) has suffered tremendously, because he lost a member of his family."
The Sebastian Police Dept. says an internal investigation found Officer Antosia violated one standard of conduct and three code of conduct policy violations. But overall, investigators found the incident to be tragic but unintentional.
Antosia was issued a 120-hour suspension without pay. With the dismissal of the trial Thursday, the agency said Antosia will continue to work as a road patrol officer, which he has been doing since June 2018.