Nyx, the a 10-year-old K-9 black Labrador, wasn’t killed in the line of duty. Wyoming law enforcement lost one of their best narcotic-sniffing dogs of seven years to heat stroke. Nyx’s partner of two years, Officer Zachary Miller, left the black Lab locked in their patrol car for more than six hours.
No Justice for Nyx
As reported in NY Daily News, Nyx was left in the parked patrol car that she shared with Officer Zachary Miller on the morning of July 9, 2014. While it was 53 degrees when Officer Mills left Nyx alone and unattended outside of the Mills Police Department, over six hours later the temperature jumped to a scorching 86 degrees. Even in the shade, a car can be between 10 and 20 degrees hotter than outside temperatures, and even a minute in a hot car can be lethal. Dogs don’t have the sweat glands that we have, and their only form of cooling off is to pant — which isn’t very effective, to be honest.
It’s infuriating that an entire police department — who are sworn “to serve and protect” — didn’t know what to do when they leave one of their own in a hot car. Nyx faced dangerous criminals and situations, but her final moments may well have been a mix of:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory arrest
This is what a potentially lethal death of heat stroke looks like, and it isn’t pretty. I know that officers are busy, but no one pulling in or out had the sense to do something to save a dog that they had come to know for seven years? There are no words.
Officer Miller knew where Nyx was, but he was too busy. Nope, he wasn’t looking for the bad guys or helping someone in need. He was busy training another officer.
When Officer Miller had the sense to check on Nyx, she was already dead. As reported in NY Daily News, Mills Police Chief, Bryon Preciado, lamented that, “It was a mistake he’s going to have to pay for.” Chief Preciado defended his officer of four years who had once won the Officer of the Year award by saying that Officer Miller “screwed up,” but he insisted that he isn’t a “problem officer.”
After a one-week suspension for an internal investigation, Officer Miller kept his badge and his job, even though Nyx lost her life. While Chief Preciado claims that the department will discipline Officer Miller, there are also legal consequences. He can spend a maximum of six months in jail and pay a $750 fine for arguably killing — even though it was “an accident” — his K-9 partner. He pleaded not guilty.
Compassionate Citizens Care About Nyx
Thankfully, many Wyoming residents have more sense than Office Miller, the Mills Police Department and the legal system combined. As reported in the Casper Star Tribune, almost 100 protestors (and many of their dogs) gathered outside of the Mills Police Department to demand justice for Nyx. Jeremy Brown, the organizer of the protest, told the Casper Star Tribune that they are there because, “I think that Officer Miller should have his badge stripped and that he should be doing felony time, because if it was me or anyone else who did that to that dog, we’d be doing felony prison time.”
Strangers who probably never met Nyx are also upset about her final resting place. Nyx was buried on Miller’s property with no police officer burial. After spending well over half of her life serving and saving, she was buried like an ordinary dog. Chief Preciado expressed that, “That’s one of the things I would take back if I had to do it over again. We’re going to do a memorial service.” Although he went on to add that they’ll wait for the situation to be less tense, and the public will be invited.
The Department plans on honoring Nyx with a statue.
Honoring the Bravery of Fallen K-9 Dogs
K-9 dogs assist our police departments and military and they help protect us every day. They do a lot more than sit in unattended patrol cars for hours. They are usually the first to enter the most dangerous situations.
In honor of Nyx, here are three K-9 dogs who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty from the North American Police Work Dog Association:
Vasko: Vasko and his partner were chasing two subjects on foot related to a car-jacking. One of them ran behind a house, and Vasko followed. The suspect shot at the officer, while Vasko “engaged” the subject. Vasko received two gunshots in the face, and couldn’t survive the extreme blood loss. Thanks to Vasko and officers, the victim who had been kidnapped and trapped in his own vehicle was safe.
Ando: Ando and his partner responded to a police pursuit that ended when the subject left on foot into a wooded area. Ando tracked the subject in the heavily dense area. He was sent out three times, but he didn’t return the third time. Many hours later, Ando’s body was discovered on a creek bed from what appeared to be a drowning. The suspect was eventually caught with multiple dog bites and scratches on his arms and legs; one of his charges was “killing a police canine, which is a five-year felony and a $10,000.00 fine under Georgia criminal code.”
Sevo: Sevo and his partner were looking for a suspect who had escaped on foot with a knife. Sevo was ordered to apprehend the subject who refused to drop the knife and kept walking towards the officer. The subject grabbed Sevo by the back of his neck and repeatedly stabbed him in the chest with the knife.
Nyx risked her life every day. With her training and her dog spirit, she would’ve given her life for Officer Zachary Miller in a heartbeat. Wyoming’s Mills Police Department honors her senseless (and completely preventable) death and her seven years of service by giving Officer Zachary Miller a slap on the wrist and a statue. If you want to see justice for Nyx, then please sign and share this petition.
Photo Credit: Paul Chaloner