VIERA, Fla. – A police officer who found his K-9 dead inside a sweltering patrol vehicle in Brevard County in April has been charged with animal cruelty, the State Attorney's Office said Wednesday.
Sebastian police Officer Eric Antosia has been charged with one count of animal cruelty, a first-degree misdemeanor, in connection with the death of Sebastian police K-9 Diesel.
Authorities said Diesel, who had been with the department for a year, was left unattended in Antosia's patrol vehicle outside the Brevard County courthouse in Melbourne on April 28.
It was not immediately known how long Diesel was in the car or how long after the visit to the courthouse the dog was found.
Temperatures reached 88 degrees on the afternoon Diesel was found in the vehicle, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.
Sebastian police said Antosia has been placed on administrative leave without pay effective immediately, pending the final outcome of the criminal case. The move is standard procedure.
"Once the criminal case is finished, we will promptly complete an administrative investigation to gain a full understanding of what occurred, determine accountability and appropriate disciplinary action as the facts warrant," Sebastian police said in a statement.
A trial date for Antosia has not yet been set.
The 14-year officer of Sebastian police faces up to a year in jail.
"He's a law enforcement officer. He showed know better," reacted Tony Williams to the news of charges being filed.
Williams told News 6 Wednesday the charge should be more severe than a misdemeanor.
"An officer knowing the law, he should do his job. He should do his job the right way. He did it the wrong way. He left the dog in the car and it got killed. He's supposed to get the book thrown at him," said Williams.
Others speaking to News 6 Wednesday at the Melbourne courthouse thought the charge is appropriate.
"I don't feel like he should have to go away forever because he has served our community, he has done a lot of good," said Naomi Fredrick. "He hasn't had anything else that's been really bad."
News 6 obtained Antosia's 2015 evaluation form from the city of Sebastian and in it he was given above satisfactory ratings in job knowledge, attitude and quality of work.