Lawmakers shoot down tougher penalties for assaulting police dogs

A bill that would have toughened penalties for assaulting a police dog in Missouri failed on Monday after some lawmakers argued there were more important concerns.

Some black members of the Missouri House, including Brandon Ellington of Kansas City, said passage of the bill could signal that police dogs are more important than African-American or other concerns.

The bill, which was introduced after a Cass County K9 officer was stabbed in the neck in December, failed on a vote of 73-68. It needed 82 votes to pass, according to the Associated Press.

Under current law, assaulting a police dog is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 15 days in jail and a fine of $700. Under the proposed new law, assaulting a police dog would have meant a year in jail and a fine of $2,000. Killing or incapacitating a police dog could bring a sentence of three to 10 years in prison.

The bill had been supported by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and Cass County Sheriff Jeff Weber.

Cass County deputies were called on Dec. 11 to assist Harrisonville police in a foot pursuit of a wanted man that began near Walmart. Champ, the sheriff’s department’s K9, joined the chase. The suspect allegedly stabbed the dog in the neck. The dog was treated by a vet in Raymore and is back on duty.

Zachary Tyler Wilbanks, who is charged with resisting arrest and assault on a police animal, is a fugitive with a warrant on his head after he failed to appear for a court date.

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