A North Carolina state trooper who was caught on video kicking his police dog was fired under improper pressure from the governor's office and should be reinstated with back pay, a judge ruled Thursday.
The ruling from administrative law Judge Fred Morrison Jr. is a recommendation, and the fate of former Trooper Charles Jones rests with the State Personnel Commission. The Highway Patrol, which maintains Jones was fired independently of Gov. Mike Easley's opinion, said it will fight to keep Jones out of the patrol.
A cell phone video, taken by another trooper in August, shows Jones suspending the dog, Ricoh, from a railing and then kicking him at least five times. The video and testimony in an earlier hearing before Morrison showed that troopers used beatings, stun guns and other methods to discipline and train the patrol's dogs. On April 30, officials suspended the patrol's canine program. The state official who oversees the patrol said Thursday that the program could be reinstated within two months.
Morrison wrote in his decision that he thinks Jones was fired because officials in the governor's office saw the video and said Jones had to go.
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