Former reserve officer pleads guilty to animal cruelty in police K-9's death

Clinton Ellis

BROOKVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - A former reserve police officer in southeast Indiana pleaded guilty this week to cruelty to an animal in a case involving the neglect of his police-issued K-9.

Clinton Ellis, 35, was already in jail after pleading guilty to felony theft charges involving unlawfully seized guns and missing cash while serving as a reserve police officer in Laurel. He was sentenced to six months in jail and a year's probation in that case.

According to our partners at the Batesville Herald Tribune, another Laurel police officer, Brandon Blades, found K-9 Blade dead in his cage at Ellis' home on January 1 of last year. Blades had noted the dog "had lost a significant amount of weight, was not being taken out regularly and was left to wallow in his cage among his urine and feces" while under Ellis' care.

Blade had been in Ellis' care since August 2017.

Indiana DNR Officer Corey Norrod launched an investigation into the K-9's death after being contacted by Indiana State Police. Norrod received Blade's carcass frozen and placed in a black trash bag on January 18 and submitted it for a necropsy.

Through interviews with other Laurel officers, Norrod learned more about Blade's deteriorating health and the deplorable conditions in which he was kept.

Ellis reportedly put the K-9 in a garbage bag after it died and threw the body in a dumpster. Witnesses said he removed the carcass later and put it in a barn until Norrod picked the K-9 up.

Ellis told Norrod he meant to take Blade to the veterinarian, but the office was closed, though no record exists of him trying to contact the office. He also said he planned to give the dog a proper burial, but the ground was too cold.

“There was zero doubt that (Ellis) neglected and mistreated that poor dog. Under the circumstances of this case, though, it is only a misdemeanor offense," said Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Huerkamp.

Animal cruelty only becomes a felony charge if the perpetrator has a prior conviction for the same ofense.

Ellis received a sentence of 365 days in the Franklin County Security Center, with 311 days suspended to probation. He also agreed to pay $11,000 in restitution for the costs involved in Blade's acquisition and training.