Monday, 6 Dec 2021

Homeless veteran devastated after cops tase service dog and he finds her dead

A homeless army veteran has been left devastated and tried to take his own life after police tased his service dog during his arrest, before finding her dead two days after his release.

Joshua Graham Rohrer says he was wrongfully arrested and mistreated by police officers, who also tased his service dog Sunshine, in North Carolina, USA.

Rohrer was standing near a shopping centre in the city of Gastonia on October 13, when a member of the public called 911 and reported him for using Sunshine to get money from people in a sympathy act, the Army Times reports.

The ex-soldier was deployed to both Kuwait and Iraq and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with Sunshine – a two-year-old Belgian Malinois – prescribed as his Veteran Affairs treatment.

He argues he wasn’t doing anything illegal when he was arrested: “I was accused of falsely using my dog to get money from people and asking people for money but that’s not true.”

He added that as soon as he took the money offered to him, a police officer drove up and told him that she would be giving him a ticket for panhandling.

Justyn Huffman and Nydia Conley witnessed Rohrer’s arrest and told local TV station WCNC: “The officer asked him for his ID. He wasn’t moving fast enough so he tried to reach into his pocket to get his ID. They slammed him up against the car and they put cuffs on him.”

His loyal companion Sunshine jumped on the police car’s bonnet to try and help him, Rohrer said.

“She was just doing her job, licking me and trying to calm me down. The cops started yelling at her and me, telling me to get her to settle down but they wouldn’t allow me to physically get control of her.”

The veteran added that Sunshine bit one of the officer’s ankles, prompting the cop to tase her.

Huffman said he saw Sunshine ran to a nearby store with one of the taser prongs dangling off her body while police took Rohrer to the back of the car and “slammed him on the pavement.”

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As he was taken away by police for booking, Rohrer said he begged the officers to let Sunshine come with him.

He cited a North Carolina statute that permits people with disabilities the right to keep their service dogs with them, especially in cases where the individual’s health is at risk.

“They laughed at me,” he said. “I begged them to bring her to me or to give her to an officer to take with them, but they wouldn’t listen, they didn’t care.”

Although Rohrer’s friend and fellow veteran Dave Dowell was able to find the service dog later that night, she slipped her leash and ran away while Rohrer was still in jail.

He was released the next day after posting bail and immediately began searching for Sunshine, but after nearly two days, she was found having been hit by a car and killed.

Rohrer’s grief over losing Sunshine almost killed him, his pal Dowell told the Military Times.

According to Dowell, Rohrer ran into traffic after learning Sunshine was gone and tried throwing himself in front of any car that he could.

“He absolutely lost his mind,” Dowell said.

Losing Sunshine and facing the allegedly rough and careless treatment of the police left Rohrer feeling hopeless enough that he “just wanted to die,” he said.

After Dowell and police were able to subdue Rohrer, he had to be treated at the hospital for injuries suffered during the PTSD episode caused by losing Sunshine.

For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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