CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. -- A former Cherokee County school police officer jailed after leaving his K-9 partner in the back of a hot vehicle has had some of those charges dropped, according to court documents obtained by 11Alive.
In June 10, 2016, officer Daniel Peabody allegedly pulled into the driveway of his home and left his K-9 Inka in the backseat of his vehicle while he went to "deal with another dog" inside. Officials said around 7 p.m., the officer remembered the 4-year-old Belgian Malinois was still in the patrol car and found the police canine dead in the rear vehicle.
Officials said Peabody drove home that day in a Ford Crown Victoria that was not equipped with cages or alarms and they believe that "played a factor" in what unfolded at the home. Authorities took Peabody into custody on June 22, and charged with felony animal cruelty as well as making false statements. Peabody previously pleaded not guilty.
But new court documents show that the counts related to animal cruelty will be dropped after Peabody and his lawyers argued that he did not receive proper warning that his case would be presented before a grand jury.
According to the statute in question, all officers have the right to be present with counsel during the state’s presentation of evidence to the grand jury and the right to make a statement.
The state argued that when Peabody left his car and went inside, he “stepped away” from his duties, therefore the law does not apply. However, Peabody contends that as a K-9 handler, his duties related to the police dog are continuous, and the death of Inka happened “during the performance of his duties.”
“Whether the indictment survives the motion of the Defendant turns on this issue,” the document stated.
Ultimately, the court concluded that Peabody was considered to be on duty when Inka died, therefore two of the counts against him have been dismissed. The charges against Peabody related to making false statements are not covered under the same statute and still stand.
PHOTOS | Officer charged in death of K9s
Officer charged in death of two K9s
The making false statements charges are related to the death of a retired K-9, Dale. Investigators said Peabody took possession of Dale in 2012 when the K-9 was retired. Peabody initially told police Dale died when he choked on a ball. Investigators later found that he shot Dale to death shortly after the dog retired. Tips about Dale’s death came into the Sheriff’s office shortly after the death of Inka.
A third set of animal remains were discovered at a home where Peabody lived about a year ago.
Peabody had been with the police department since 2000. He resigned from the school district on June 16.