ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – One week after the Rockdale County sheriff’s division introduced a K9 deputy wouldn’t face prison costs within the deaths of three of his private canine, a CBS46 investigation has uncovered why.
Final week, the division stated an internal investigation into Deputy Eric Tolbert had been performed concerning a “cruelty to animals’ incident.”
A search warrant “found unsanitary situations and the improper disposal of his private canine, which was in violation of Georgia regulation,” the division stated. A CBS46 investigation had already uncovered Tolbert threw the our bodies of his three American bulldogs right into a trash can.
Division investigators additionally sought a misdemeanor arrest warrant on Tolbert however the division stated “judges refused to signal the warrant citing lack of possible trigger and a battle of curiosity, with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Workplace investigating the incident, as a substitute of using the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.”
The Rockdale County District Legal professional’s Workplace is declining to prosecute the case citing lack of proof, the division stated. A prison investigation has been closed, and an inner administrative investigation discovered Tolbert in violation of two division insurance policies. Because of this, the deputy was suspended for 32 hours with out pay and has misplaced his designation as a K9 handler.
Three lifeless canine
Rockdale County Sheriff’s Investigator Colleen Jones was assigned this case after Deputy Tolbert made a Fb submit asserting the demise of his three American bulldogs, making a comment that the warmth was “no joke.”
Investigator Jones went to Deputy Tolbert’s Conyers home and rang his Ring doorbell. Right here is their change:
Jones: “Hey. It’s Investigator Jones outdoors in the event you can come out and meet with me, please.”
Tolbert: “I’m not on the town. What’s occurring?”
Jones: “I’m out right here to speak about your canine. You have got two, three canine that handed away?”
Tolbert: “Sure I do.”
Jones: “Okay. The place are these canine?”
Tolbert: “Um I didn’t have a option to bury them so I trashed them.”
Jones: “You probably did what with them?”
Tolbert: “Put them within the trash.”
Over the following few hours, investigators searched Deputy Tolbert’s property. They took custody of his county issued police canine, Aegis, who he left in a cage in his yard.
Additionally they appeared inside his uninsulated shed the place they discovered a small transportable air conditioner and soiled crates lined with feces and mould.
“God Almighty, it stinks,” Jones stated, as she walked across the property.
In a recorded interview on the sheriff’s workplace just a few weeks later, Deputy Tolbert admitted after his first canine died, he put a small transportable air conditioner within the shed. Nonetheless, an inner investigation decided the unit was “not enough” for such a big enclosure. Inside a day, the transportable air conditioner failed and the opposite two canine died, as properly.
“Getting again to the air conditioner, did you learn a handbook in any respect?” a Rockdale County sheriff’s worker requested.
“I learn it sufficient, so far as to assemble,” Deputy Tolbert answered.
“So, you didn’t learn the half that probably stated one thing to the impact of not utilizing it as an air conditioner?” the worker requested.
“Nah, I didn’t,” Deputy Tolbert answered.
No warrant, no arrest
At this level, Investigator Jones thought she had sufficient proof to carry costs. However Rockdale County Choose Nancy Payments disagreed, refusing to signal an arrest warrant and, based on case notes, as a result of she felt the sheriff’s workplace ought to have turned the investigation over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Payments known as the case a “battle of curiosity” for deputies to work a case involving one among their very own.
It’s a choice the sheriff’s division continues to again.
When requested why the workplace didn’t flip over the Deputy Tolbert investigation to the GBI, LeJohn Tate, chief of workers for the Rockdale County sheriff’s workplace, stated, “We do have the flexibility to analyze our circumstances. We would not have to show it over to the GBI. We’ve got a prison investigations division. We’re a completely functioning Sheriff’s workplace.”
Tate disagrees with Choose Payments’ opinion there was a battle of curiosity.
Deputy Tolbert responds
CBS46 Investigative Reporter Rachel Polansky went to Deputy Tolbert’s home twice. The second time, he was backing out of his driveway. He initially stated he didn’t need to speak with us however continued answering our questions.
“My company stated they’ve finished an investigation and so they deemed that I used to be match to return again to responsibility,” Deputy Tolbert stated. “There was no sick intent behind it or something making an attempt to hurt my animals. These had been my animals. I cherished all of them.”
Polansky: “Shouldn’t you’ve recognized higher as a K9 handler to not hold American bulldogs in an uninsulated shed?”
Tolbert: “Effectively, the shed was getting cool so I figured it was okay. Since I’ve had them, it had by no means received that sizzling.”
Polansky: “It was a June day in Georgia. Shouldn’t you realize higher?”
Tolbert: “Proper, however it by no means received that sizzling so, ya know, that they had been tremendous earlier than.”
Polansky: “Why did you set the lifeless canine in a trash can?”
Tolbert: “My yard is closely wooded. I couldn’t dig, so I didn’t know some other possibility.”
After the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Workplace closed the case, Deputy Tolbert obtained a four-day suspension with out pay and was moved from the K9 unit to the patrol division. However he additionally prevented prison costs, one thing animal regulation knowledgeable Claudine Wilkins doesn’t perceive.
“It’s similar to placing a canine in a sizzling automotive,” stated Wilkins, who based Animal Law Source. “The temperature heats up shortly and to depart them there and go off to work for hours is totally irresponsible and reckless. So the extent of data and duty is a bit larger than the common individual in the event you’re a K9 officer.”
Wilkins stated there was sufficient proof to carry state animal cruelty costs in opposition to Deputy Tolbert.
“Warmth exhaustion is failure to offer shelter,” Wilkins stated. “So at a naked bones minimal, this appears to me as a misdemeanor case in Georgia, underneath state regulation.”
The penalty for an animal cruelty misdemeanor in Georgia is as much as one yr in jail and a tremendous. Failing to offer an animal with “sanitary conditions” or “ventilation” and improperly disposing of animals each violate state regulation.
Tate defended the division’s actions.
“With the investigation that was performed, the disciplinary actions that had been rendered is what we discovered being becoming for that exact investigation,” he stated.
The Rockdale County Sheriff’s Workplace has begun altering protocol for police canine, now directing K9 handlers to carry police canine indoors if the surface temperatures are larger than 90 levels or under 40 levels.
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