Gainesville Police Department Says They're "Proud" of K-9 Unit Officers

Gainesville Police Department Says They're "Proud" of K-9 Unit Officers
(From left to right) Sgt. Charles Owens, Ofc. Maurquice Miller, Cpl. Casey Walsh, Ofc. Dalton Ripley 

On Monday, the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) reposted a post on Facebook from the news/talk show The Sky, which honored four GPD officers: Sergeant Charles Owens, Officer Maurquice Miller, Officer Dalton Ripley, and Corporal Casey Walsh. The officers were being honored for their efforts to save a man who fled a traffic stop and began to drown after jumping into a lake. Despite the officers' attempts, the man did not survive. 

The name or identity of the man who lost his life was not regarded in The Sky or GPD's post honoring the officers who attempted to save him.

GPD said in their post, “We are extremely proud of our Officers and the great work they do every single day. Thank you to our friends and neighbors for your continued support.”

Sergeant Charles Owens was previously named in a 2022 lawsuit for racial discrimination against GPD. The former officer filing the suit alleged that he was racially discriminated against for being Black by fellow members of the K-9 unit, which included Owens. According to a WUFT article, the suit detailed that “​Owens allegedly threatened to grow a ‘toothbrush’ mustache and illustrated his point by shouting 'Heil Hitler,' and raising his hand in the Nazi salute three times."

According to an Alachua Chronicle article, officer Dalton Ripley has been a member of GPD’s K-9 unit since March 20, 2023. Publicly available information regarding his professional activities is currently limited.

Officer Maurquice Miller was previously given a written warning for committing a general order violation following Terrell Bradley’s mauling; and maiming by a K-9 in July 2022. The internal investigation states that Miller “used his personal cell phone to take a photo of Bradley’s injury, while displayed on Ofc. Johnson’s issued cell phone, and failed to submit that photo into evidence.”

Corporal Casey Walsh is the handler of the K-9 who mauled an innocent homeless woman who was thought to be a domestic battery suspect. 

GPD’s K-9 policy states, “The handler must be sure the canine has targeted the suspect rather than someone else.” However, Walsh allowed her K-9 to attack a woman sleeping and concealed in bushes; decreasing the credibility of her assessment. 

GPD’s K-9 policy additionally states, “Handlers will utilize all reasonable means to affect apprehension without incurring a bite.” However, body-cam footage shows Cpl. Walsh stating over her car's intercom that the dog would bite the suspect under the presumption he was listening.

GPD’s K-9 bite policy states, “If a determination is made that the injury or bite was not within department policy, the handler will be subjected to disciplinary action.” Walsh was not subject to disciplinary action. GPD interim chief Nelson Moya said in a statement that all “departmental policies and protocols” were followed. 

Walsh is still the handler of the K-9 who mauled the woman. The incident report on the mauling in March and an arrest report from a shooting investigation a month later show Walsh stating she “deployed Stern,” Stern being the name of the dog.  The Sky's report honoring Walsh calls Stern her "partner."

The GPD K-9 unit was temporarily removed half a year after Bradley’s maiming. The GPD K-9 unit returned to regular duty status in January of this year, following a period of limited deployment. 

Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL