Trial of Sebastian police officer charged in K-9's death begins

Officer Eric Antosia charged with animal cruelty

VIERA, Fla. – The trial began Tuesday for Sebastian police Officer Eric Antosia, who is charged with the death of his K-9 partner Diesel.

State investigators said the Sebastian police officer was working in a courthouse on April 28, 2017, when Diesel died of heatstroke inside a hot patrol car parked outside the courthouse. 

The outside temperature when Diesel died was 88 degrees, which set a heat record for that date. 

The officer's attorney said that because Antosia was not driving his own patrol car that day, he's not at fault for being assigned a vehicle without the safety measures to alert him when the car got too hot and automatically roll down the windows, even if the vehicle was turned off.

That same day, when he got home, Melbourne police said Antosia forgot about Diesel and again left the dog in his closed car.

"Diesel died after being left in a closed vehicle for several hours," according to Assistant State Attorney Michael Hill.

But Antosia's attorney, Greg Eisenmenger, said the state doesn't know when, where and why Diesel died.

"Evidence is going to show that a terrible tragedy took place, but there's no criminal act that took place," Eisenmenger said.
Antosia is charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a year behind bars and up to a $5,000 fine.

"As a police officer, he feels betrayed by the way the state of Florida has treated him in this situation," Eisenmenger said. "He is extremely emotionally upset about the loss of a member of his family because a K-9 is a member of the Antosia family."

The trial is expected to be over by Thursday.

Stick with News 6 and for updates to this story.

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.