SALT LAKE CITY — A jury found a West Jordan man guilty of shooting and killing a Unified police dog in 2017 after roughly two hours of deliberation Friday.
Torey Massey, 30, of West Jordan, faces up to five years in prison for the death of Dingo, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois who was nearing retirement.
"The verdict today and the jury's quick deliberation and quick decision provided some vindication," the dog's handler, Chad Reyes, said. "Dingo was my best friend, my partner and my protector, but he really belonged to the public. He was the citizen of Salt Lake County's police dog and protector."
Reyes, now deputy chief of the Herriman Police Department, held back tears Thursday on the stand as he recalled finding the dog with bullet wounds and rushing him to a Millcreek hospital. Prosecutors argued Massey fired several rounds at the dog after the K-9 lunged at him and the two tumbled down a steep slope on July 6, 2017.
Reyes visited Dingo's gravesite Friday, a place he's returned to many times to visit one of his closest friends.
"I really feel like I carry him with me every day, for sure," Reyes said.
The dog "really was part of our family," he explained.
"A lot of scientific types will argue that dogs aren't capable of self-sacrifice," according to the handler. But "I'm certain that he willingly put himself in jeopardy."
Massey was convicted of two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a first-degree felony; and killing a police service animal, a third-degree felony. He was also found guilty of two counts of failing to stop at an officer's command. Prosecutors dismissed other charges of drug possession and theft charges, in part because the burglary victim moved out of the country.
Aldo, another Unified K-9 that was slain in 2016, and Dingo inspired lawmakers last year to strengthen penalties for killing police service dogs. The offense is now a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 17.
Contributing: Alex Cabrero
Correction: A previous version said police K-9 Aldo died in 2019. He was shot and killed in 2016.