MIAMI -- A judge on Thursday tossed out a felony charge against a former Miami-Dade police sergeant on trial for allegedly killing his police dog, but allowed a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge to go forward.
Allen Cockfield is accused of viciously kicking his K-9 partner, Duke, during a training session in June 2006, killing the Belgian Malinois.
He was charged with a felony count of killing a police dog, and a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty.
Prosecutors rested their case Thursday, after presenting two days of testimony from eyewitnesses and medical experts who said that Duke died from a disruption to the heart caused by the kick.
But Cockfield's defense lawyer, Douglas Hartman, argued Thursday afternoon for an acquittal on the felony charge because the state did not prove that the longtime canine handler intended to kill the dog. He said the charge required proof of intent.
"This was a training accident," said Hartman, who contends that Cockfield was trying to protect himself from Duke's attacks.
Miami-Dade prosecutor Isis Perez, after researching the issue, agreed, and Circuit Judge Antonio Arzola threw out the charge.
But Arzola declined to issue an acquittal on the misdemeanor charge, meaning jurors will decide Cockfield's fate.
Cockfield is charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. The charge is punishable by up to one year in jail.