K-9’s hot car death while deputy slept inside home was ‘avoidable,’ Georgia police say

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A Georgia sheriff’s deputy has been demoted after his K-9 companion was found dead inside a hot patrol car.

Former Sgt. Willie Barkley was working an overnight shift May 13-14 when he left K-9 officer Khan asleep in a pen inside the car, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Barkley returned home the morning of May 14 and finished a few reports in his patrol car before heading inside to rest. He usually moved Khan to a pen in his yard, authorities said, but forgot the K-9 was still in the patrol car.

It wasn’t until the afternoon of May 14 that Barkley realized his mistake and found Khan dead from “apparent overheating.”

Temperatures in Forsyth reached the low to mid 70’s on May 14, according to Accuweather. However, experts say the inside of a car “can get dangerously and lethally hot” even on a mild day.

An internal affairs investigation determined Khan’s death was an “avoidable accident,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. The case was turned over to the district attorney’s office, which declined to press charges against Barkley.

Barkley was demoted to sergeant and removed from field operations. He was also handed a five-day suspension without pay.

Monroe County Sheriff Brad Freeman said the department plans to make changes to its internal “hot dog system” and is looking into other technology to prevent something like this from happening again.

The system “ties in with the [patrol] car and if the temperature in the car gets above a certain degree it will alert the driver … roll the windows down and either alert on the horn or siren,” Freeman told McClatchy News. “We’re just looking to see what else is out there that we can use.”

Khan was 4 years old and had been with the department since July 2018, according to the sheriff’s office. Barkley had been his handler for one year.

Monroe County is about 70 miles southeast of Atlanta.

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