Cop Leaves Dog in Car to Die, Receives No Charges

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Cpl. Josh Coleman and Mason, the dog he left to die in his patrol car

UPDATE @ 6/27/2015 3:49 PM: Initially prosecutors declined to press charges against Cpl. Coleman, but the District Attorney’s office has now decided to conduct an official investigation, saying charges may still be filed after a grand jury review.

GULF SHORES, Ala. — A police dog died Thursday after being left in a hot police cruiser by his own handler.

Cpl. Josh Coleman left the dog, Mason, in the car while he attended a hurricane preparation conference. Coleman says he forgot that he’d left Mason in the back of the car, although no reports state the length of time the dog was trapped in the vehicle before he was found.

Mason was discovered and taken to a veterinarian when Coleman returned to the vehicle. Police originally said Friday morning that Mason’s condition had “improved,” but he died later that evening of injuries sustained from heat exposure. The dog was three years old.

Sources describe Mason, a yellow Labrador Retriever, as a “community engagement officer,” presumably used to help improve the public’s perception of police, rather than an “enforcement K-9” used for attacking suspects.

The Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office says Coleman will not be charged with a crime. The police department says Coleman will face “sanctions,” but did not explain the nature of the sanctions.