Whistleblower's lawsuit over LASD K-9's death highlights alleged discrepancies in investigation

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Whistleblower's lawsuit over LASD K-9's death highlights discrepancies
In the aftermath of a Los Angeles County sheriff's K-9's hot car death, a whistleblower's lawsuit has highlighted alleged discrepancies into the investigation.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The 2020 death of Spike, an LASD K-9, led Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lt. Joseph Garrido to sue the agency.

He claims he is facing retaliation after he raised questions about what happened: Spike was in a hot vehicle and the department claims the air conditioning failed.

"This is Sheriff Villanueva's Watergate moment, said attorney Vincent Miller, who is representing Garrido. "Because it is just a cover-up of the cover-up that's catching him here. It's also the incompetence."

ABC7 reported a story about the lawsuit last week. Since then the Sheriff's Department has publicly released a memo dated in 2020 that claims it was properly investigated.

Villanueva spoke about the matter as well, saying: "He alleges about the death of a sheriff's canine Spike and clearly, you know, it was a tragedy. We lost a good dog but there was no evidence of misconduct. It was just an unfortunate accident, which do happen, and it was thoroughly documented, investigated and appropriate corrective actions were taken."

The memo also states that sheriff's officials interviewed veterinarian Dr. Yolanda Cassidy at the East Los Angeles Animal Hospital and that she discussed the medical procedures performed on the dog.

But in an interview with ABC7, Cassidy said that never happened and she was not involved at all.

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"I think this is maybe a cover up," she said. "It's something that they need to explain to the public and everybody else."

Cassidy said she was not there when Spike died. She had never even seen the dog nor met his handler. She wonders why she's being dragged into the matter.

"All the things that they're saying, making up things, all the trust ... about the truth, and seems like this is all their side," she said. "Maybe they were very desperate."

Former Asst. Sheriff Bob Olmsted looked at the memo and said described it as troubling.

"There's something wrong with the investigation," Olmstead said. "Obviously the vet report is not aligned with that written in the memo. That report indicates that possibly the person that did the investigation wasn't even contacted. There's hole after hole on this."

"Even before the veterinarian exposed it as a complete fraud and a complete fabrication, you can already tell in the memo itself just how fake and what a poor attempt at a cover-up it was," Miller said. "This is a crime."

ABC7 asked the Sheriff's Department about the discrepancy in the report and has not received a response.