THE BRONX, N.Y. – A New York City Parks Department horse was assaulted on Sunday when police say a 25-year-old man struck the animal across the face.
But he’s not facing any charges.
The New York Post published a video showing the incident. Authorities say that around 6 p.m. on Sunday, a group of Parks Enforcement Patrol attempted to break up a gathering in Van Cortlandt Park that had gotten a bit large and unruly.
As officers approached the group on horseback, Franluis Ruiz, 25, walked up to one of the department horses and struck the horse in the face. The horse recoiled from the hit.
The officer behind the camera can be heard saying, “he’s got to go,” in reference to Ruiz.
The horse is 10-years-old and is named Teddy. Members of the Parks Department force say that because Teddy was unharmed, they would not be going after Ruiz for the full punishment. If they had, Ruiz could have been facing charges of “killing or injuring a police animal”, which is a misdemeanor that could land the suspect up to a year in jail and penalize him with fines up to $1,000.
Instead, Ruiz was reportedly only given a $100 ticket for allegedly smoking hookah in the public park and was also given a disorderly-conduct violation punishable by up to 15 days in jail or a fine of up to $250.
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Department spokeswoman Crystal Howard commented on the incident.
“Teddy is a valued member of our Parks Enforcement Patrol team. As such, his safety is of concern and we are happy that he was not seriously injured during this unacceptable incident.”
But a local police union head says they didn’t slap the suspect with formal charges because they wouldn’t get a conviction and the city is now afraid of lawsuits claiming false arrests.
“Our members are no longer making the arrests because now they have to worry about a liability issue of making a false arrest.”
Animal rights lawyer Karen Copeland said that Ruiz got off too easy.
“I think it was also animal cruelty. It was unprovoked and there’s absolutely no defense to an act against an animal like that.”
You can watch the video of the incident below.
If you ask us, anyone who attacks an animal deserves more than a slap on the wrist.
We want to hear your thoughts. Should Ruiz face bigger consequences? And how is the city’s fear of potential lawsuits affecting the way law enforcement can perform their jobs?