HOT SPRING COUNTY, Ark.- For a year and a half, the death of the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office K9 remains unsolved.
Luky was a K9 Jim McEuen won’t soon forget.
“He could be up in your lap as a lap dog one minute, and then be out taking down the bad guy in the next minute,” he said.
He trained the dog at the Little Rock K9 Academy back in 2016.
Soon after, the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office purchased Luky using drug seizure money.
Newly-elected Sheriff Mike Cash ended the K9 program, but Luky stayed with the department.
Without a trained handler, the sheriff’s office put Luky in the care of Deputy Michael Morgan.
By the end of July 2017, Luky was dead.
“They were hoping it was just going to go away. Well, it didn’t,” McEuen said.
Dr. Linda Meola with the state veterinary lab performed the autopsy on the dog called a necropsy.
Her initial report states Luky died from blunt force trauma.
Her final report said it’s “inconclusive.”
“Due to lack of, typically due to lack of training and experience,” Dr. Melinda Merck said over Skype.
That’s where Dr. Merck comes in.
She’s a forensic veterinarian out of Austin, Texas who writes books on her field of expertise.
She’s worked high profile cases like the Michael Vick case and testifies for both the prosecution and defense around the world.
She was paid by a private donor in the Justice for K9 Luky group online to look into the case.
“I think it’s important to have that objectivity and not be swayed about an outcome because all I can do is speak to what the evidence tells you,” Dr. Merck said.
With the original necropsy report, photos and investigative files from the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s office, she came to a similar conclusion as Dr. Meola did in her original report:
“Some human did something to Luky. This is a non-accidental injury.”
She says forensic photos show blunt force trauma to both sides of Luky’s head, neck, shoulder, chest, stomach and lungs.
“He laid there slowly losing the ability to breathe,” Dr. Merck said.
In an audio recording by the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office, Morgan says he told his supervisor he would be going out of town that weekend and asked what to do with Luky. The supervisor said to leave him outside with water.
According to the incident reports, Luky was found by Morgan’s mother late Sunday afternoon.
Chief Deputy Pierce went to Morgan’s home to pick up Luky’s body.
Monday morning two investigators questioned Morgan.
“We’re not treating you like a suspect OK? But the dog was shot and we need to know who done it,” one investigator said in an audio recording.
Though the case is closed, it’s not solved.
Sheriff Mike Cash never returned our calls, the lead investigator now works for Arkansas State Police and Deputy Michael Morgan is no longer with the department.
Since Morgan has never told his side of the story, we went to where he lives to see if he’d talk to us.
“Does Michael Morgan live here? Yes,” the woman said.
Morgan wasn’t home.
I explained we were investigating K9 Luky’s death.
“Is this a case that you’ve had to work with or on at all? I asked.
“I don’t want to answer any questions,” she said.
Though one door closes, this case remains wide open for Luky’s trainer Jim McEuen.
“When these guys go out and do it wrong, and something is so negligent as this, they have to be held accountable,” McEuen said.
Whatever the cause, whatever the reason and whoever is at fault, a law enforcement K9 is gone and his death deserves answers.
Morgan was relieved of duty after Luky’s death, but for unrelated reasons.
The forensic vet believes there needs to be a full external investigation to find out who’s responsible for Luky’s death.
Killing a certified K9 in Arkansas is a Class D Felony.