Bear, a K-9 officer with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, died in September after being left in his guide’s patrol vehicle for nearly 24 hours, new court documents reveal.
The search warrant, made public last week, shows Bear was found dead in Sgt. Dallas Wingate’s van after being left in it from approximately 10:00 p.m. Sept. 1 until 8:00 p.m. September 2.
Story County District Attorney Tim Meals, who is handling the case over conflict of interest concerns, said his office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are investigating Bear’s death. Meals and the Iowa DCI will decide whether to file charges against Wingate.
He could not give a timeline for when the investigation would be completed.
Wingate, a seasoned K-9 handler whose former partner, Bandit, helped find the killer of Iowa State golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena, resigned from the Boone County Sheriff’s Officeas of September 8. He had been placed on administrative leave a few days earlier.
Warrant: K-9 Bear found dead in officer’s patrol vehicle
In his search warrant, Iowa DCI Major Crimes Unit Special Agent Marc Ridout said the investigation revealed that Wingate placed Bear in the truck at approximately 10 p.m. on September 1. When Wingate went outside to feed his other dogs at approximately 8 pm on September 2, he discovered Bear was not at the outdoor dog park.
At that point, Wingate remembered that he had put Bear in his patrol truck the night before because the dog was barking at a deer, according to the court order.
“Wingate discovered that K-9 Officer Bear was deceased at this time,” the report states.
The high temperature on September 2 was 89 degrees, according to Iowa State Climatologist Justin Glisan. Glisan said that the temperature inside a vehicle would have risen between 130 and 135 degrees within an hour at that temperature.
Iowa DCI declined to share the autopsy report, which would reveal the cause of death, citing the active investigation. But according to American Veterinary Medical Association, high temperatures inside a car can cause an animal to suffer from heat stroke resulting in serious injury or death. The AVMA reports that leaving the windows ajar does not lower the temperature inside a car.
Wingate called Sheriff Gregg Elsberry at approximately 8:07 p.m. on September 2, but he did not answer the phone, according to the report. Wingate called back at 8:12 p.m. and got through to the sheriff.
Elsberry transported Bear to Boone Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Elizabeth McClure then transported Bear to the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine for a necropsy, which is an autopsy for animals.
On September 3, Ridout arrived at the Wingate residence for an interview. Ridout noticed a Blink security camera attached to a power pole that “would have shown the patrol truck as it was parked outside the residence,” the warrant says. Ridout noted that the camera was still there on September 6.
Wingate said the camera system hadn’t been working for a couple of months. He tried to access the system on his cell phone but was unsuccessful.
Ridout then filed the search warrant on October 26 with Amazon.com, which owns Blink, for access to the camera footage.
“I know that people will often keep audio recordings, digital photos and digital videos in a cloud-based system controlled by a third party entity,” he wrote. “I know that this type of information is routinely retained for long periods of time.”
The account search spanned the range of September 1 to September 3, but found “no responsive video records for the Dallas Wingate account.”
Those results were filed with the Iowa Fifth Judicial District on November 22. Judge Adam D. Hanson initially hid the order from public view, but it was published on December 1.
Although the incident occurred in Boone County, County Attorney Matt Speers asked Story County to take up the case.
“When there is an actual conflict or the appearance of a conflict, it is not unusual to ask a neighboring county to take on the prosecution side of the case,” Speers said. “I felt like there might be at least an appearance of conflict.”
Elsberry, the Boone County Sheriff, also recently resigned from his position two years before the end of his term. No public reason has been given for his departure. He submitted his resignation on November 9 and his last day is December 31.
Teresa Kay Albertson covers politics, crime, the courts, and local government in Ames and central Iowa for the Ames Tribune and the Des Moines Register. Ella contact her on Twitter @TeresaAlberts11 and at email@example.com, 515-419-6098.
This article originally appeared on the Ames Tribune: Iowa police dog Bear died after being left in a hot patrol truck