Tampa Police Department refuse to disclose picture of deputy accused of killing girlfriend’s cat

Eric Harris, a Pasco Sheriff’s Office deputy has been arrested on a charge of felony animal cruelty after being accused by his former girlfriend, and based upon a necropsy, of cruelly assaulting his former girlfriend’s three-year-old male cat, Axel. Axel died in hospital of his injuries which included severe haemorrhaging and bruising to internal organs, facial injuries, a missing tooth, marks on his body indicating stomping, inability to stand on his rear legs and broken and bloody toenails.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Axel. Photo: Tampa PD.

The fact that Eric Harris has been arrested means that the Tampa Police Department should have sufficient evidence to run a case against him and he should end up in the criminal courts on trial. He denies absolutely that he killed Axel and in fact one newspaper tells us that he has laughed about the incident.

However, the Tampa Police Department refuse to release Harris’ booking photo. Section 119.07 of the relevant Florida statute does not exempt public disclosure of booking photographs of a deputy sheriff once they have been arrested by a law enforcement officer. On the basis that that is correct, the police department are compounding the alleged crime of Harris with their own misdeed. I do not know if it is a crime to be in breach of this statute, but it might well be. Under the section mention, all public records need to be open for inspection and copying.

Statute governing booking photo disclosure in Florida

Statute governing booking photo disclosure in Florida

Eric Harris was involved in an argument with his girlfriend of six months with whom he had recently moved in. They apparently argued about the two cats. It appears that Mr Harris dislikes cats and he was upset about the cats allegedly defecating on the floor outside of their litterbox and jumping onto counters and furniture. Comment: it is entirely natural for cats to jump on counters and furniture.

Sometimes cats do defecate outside the litter box for various good reasons, one of which might be stress, and another might be that the litter substrate did not suit them.

Apparently, Harris and his girlfriend frequently argued and according to her he often displayed aggressive behaviour.

On August 22 Harris’s girlfriend returned home to her apartment at about 7 pm and noticed that both her cats were in their crate behaving sheepishly and Axel’s toenails on his rear paws were broken and bloody. She investigated and noticed that he was acting in a strange way and could not stand on his rear legs.

She took him to a veterinarian in Sarasota who recommended that he be taken to an animal hospital for urgent treatment where he died from his injuries the same day. The doctor attending to Axel called law enforcement who questioned Harris who, as mentioned, denied wrongdoing. He claims that the cat was doing fine when he was alone with Axel in the apartment.

On August 31 Harris was arrested by the Tampa Police Department at his home. Comment: it appears that the Tampa PD are protecting Eric Harris by withholding his photograph when it should be disclosed under the law.

Comment: as happens all over the world, when there is wrongdoing within the police, they protect each other, and they don’t mind if they are committing a crime when they do this. It shows a lack of integrity when police officers should be selected for their integrity. It allegedly shows that the quality of the leaders of Tampa PD are not of the quality which should be demanded by the citizens of that jurisdiction.

I feel very bad about Axel. He must’ve been terrified and in severe pain. May he rest in peace and may he obtain justice after the trial of Eric Harris. I hope that the trial takes place and I hope it takes place in a way that does justice.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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