Internal Investigation: LCSO K9 Sgt neglected policy causing dog’s illness

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:

Lee County Sheriff’s Office conducted an internal investigation of Lee County K9 Sgt. James Thorpe for multiple incidents he was involved in.

In late September, Thorpe is accused of neglecting to have his LCSO Ford Explorer mechanically serviced after he was told during a scheduled maintenance there was a mechanical issue.

Then in early October, Thorpe is accused of leaving his K9 partner, Jager, inside the same LCSO vehicle with windows partially down to meet other K9 trainers at the LCSO gun range.

Investigators say Thorpe went inside the gun range for approximately two hours and then came outside to relieve Jager before returning him to the vehicle and going back inside the gun range. Less than an hour later, Thorpe returned and found Jager had vomited inside the vehicle. He let Jager out, who was breathing rapidly and wobbly on his feet, disoriented and heavily panting. Then, Thorpe smelled fumes coming from inside the LCSO vehicle he did not smell previously.

Thorpe took Jager to be treated at an emergency veterinary hospital for possible carbon monoxide poisoning. The doctor told Thorpe Jager appeared to be in a mild state of hypovolemic shock. Jager was released after being treated for potential carbon monoxide toxicity.

According to LCSO policy, it is the responsibility of the “Fleet Management Division” to ensure all LCSO vehicles are ready at all times, but it is not the division’s responsibility to order Thorpe to take the vehicle out of service and get it repaired.

Internal investigators found Thorpe responsible for putting off maintenance repair of his vehicle after being told it had a mechanical issue. And they find that his neglect of LCSO policies caused Jager’s medical emergency.

According to LCSO, Thorpe faces substantiated charges for Neglect of Duty (Willful Violation of Official Procedures and/or Direction).

Vague Arrest Report

In late October, LCSO internal investigators looked into an arrest report Thorpe submitted that did not match the report submitted by another responding LCSO deputy and the “Response to Resistance” report (RTR) submitted by an LCSO sergeant.

In October, Thorpe followed a vehicle that failed to stop at an intersection in Lehigh Acres. After losing sight of the vehicle, Thorpe, with K9 with partner Jager in his LCSO vehicle, eventually located the suspect vehicle crashed in a wooded area. The vehicle did not have a driver inside, but there was a female passenger.

Thorpe heard movement as he was responding to the vehicle in the woods and called for backup. The responding deputy, whose report did not match Thorpe’s, accompanied him and Jager, and they found the male suspect, handcuffed him and took him to an LCSO substation.

Both Thorpe and the other responding deputy submitted their arrest reports, and the sergeant submitted the RTR going off of Thorpe’s verbal account. An LCSO Lieutenant reviewed all three reports and found Thorpe’s report didn’t match the deputy report or the RTR report.

Thorpe was interviewed and admitted his report was vague and took responsibility for submitting the report that was not a complete and accurate account.

Investigators say Thorpe faces a substantiated charge for Neglect of Duty (Loafing, Inattention to Duties/Procedures).

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