PHOENIX (AP) — A suburban Phoenix police department has cleared an officer accused of abusing a police dog.
An internal investigation found the officer was in compliance with Peoria Police Department policy and state law when he took "measured steps to regain the canine's focus," the department said Thursday in a statement.
"His actions ... were corrective in nature and were not intended to nor did they hurt the canine," the department said.
A widely viewed video shot from across the street during the Aug. 29 incident showed the dog, its handler and three other officers outside a home.
As the dog sits outside the front door, the handler snaps its leash and then appears to whip the animal with it. The handler then briefly lifts his right leg.
The contact between the officer and the dog is unclear, but a woman off camera can be heard gasping and saying, "He's kicking that dog."
The police department statement said officers within a few feet of the handler said that officer stepped on the leash where it connects with the dog's harness. That's a technique to get it to lie down when verbal commands don't work, the department said.
The video was viewed online thousands of times, with some commenters accusing the officer of animal abuse.
According to police, the incident occurred while officers were looking for two robbery suspects. The 3-year-old Belgian Malinois was called in to assist.
The department said its investigation included reviewing a veterinarian's findings from an examination of the dog and interviewing all police officers present, the person who recorded the video, and three experts in dog training.
There was no indication that the dog was hurt or was in any distress, the department said.
Police did not identify the officer involved but have said he is a 10-year veteran who has been a K-9 handler for five years and who remains on regular assignment.