Jury selection for Sebastian Police K9 Officer Eric Antosia’s case began Wednesday afternoon in Brevard County.
Antosia is accused of animal cruelty in the death of his K9 partner, Diesel. The officer found Diesel dead on April 28 after he was left for several hours in Antosia’s patrol car parked in front of his home.
A necropsy performed on Diesel by a veterinarian determined he died from heat stroke, records show.
Evidence entered into the case shows the “Hot-N-Pop” heat indicator in Antosia’s patrol vehicle did not go off. The heat indicator is supposed to open rear windows and set off sirens and flashing lights in the vehicle to indicate to the officer when it is too hot inside.
A technician for the indicator found the battery malfunction light was illuminated.
Antosia reportedly was too distraught to talk when Brevard County Sheriff’s Officers came to his home on April 28 to investigate the death of Diesel.
Antosia’s wife told investigators their son noticed Diesel was missing when he went to feed Diesel and their two other dogs that evening. Antosia checked his patrol vehicle and found Diesel dead, his wife said in a statement.
Training records show that Antosia and Diesel performed at proficient and acceptable levels.
The officer was using a backup canine patrol vehicle. A Brevard County State Attorney’s Office investigation found the heat indicator was operating properly, but with different settings than in Antosia’s regular patrol vehicle.
The indicator was set to power off when the ignition is turned off. Typically, the indicator is set to remain on even when the vehicle is not on.
Antosia is facing a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. The trial is expected to last several days.