"We could have swept this under the rug and left it that way." -Mill Police Chief Bryon Preciado
A Mills police officer, facing a misdemeanor charge of not providing adequate food, water, or protection from the weather, which resulted in the death of his K-9 partner. Tonight news 13's Jeff Platt looks into why it took so long for this story to come to light; more than 6 weeks after K-9 Nyx passed away.
Nyx died on July 9th. Officer Miller entered a not guilty plea for the misdemeanor crime August 7th.
Mills Police Chief Bryon Preciado said, "I'm not justifying why he was here for 6 hours. He shouldn't have been here that long."
News 13 first got an anonymous tip about a Mills K-9 dying August 1st. We sent freedom of information act requests to both the Mills Police Chief and the Division of Criminal Investigations at that time and two more requests 20 days later. All of them were denied.
Preciado said, "We're not routinely giving out our investigations to the press."
Chief Preciado agreed to an off-camera interview after we first reported the story on the 21st. In a press release dated August 22nd, he says: "We could have swept this under the rug and left it that way. We feel we acted appropriately by contacting DCI and requesting that they conduct an investigation".
The attorney for the City of Mills says all the information we requested weeks ago was compiled for the investigation of "violations of, and enforcing internal personnel rules or personnel policies." However, that investigation led to a publicly available, criminal charge in Natrona County Circuit Court. Officer Miller returned to work afterwards.
Preciado said, "He came back to work after our internal investigation ended, he was allowed to come back to work."
Chief Preciado says the department is still investigating.
Preciado said, "We need to re-look at our policies and make sure everything's in place to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Currently Mills PD has no policy as to how long a K-9 can be in patrol car, nor do they have technology that keeps the cab at a temperature dogs can handle. Which was suggested before Nyx died.
Preciado said, "The previous K-9 handler ask for those multiple times, and the previous administration refused."
As a result of the death of Mills PD's only K-9. The division has been suspended and miller has been disciplined, but Preciado wouldn't say how, but we do know he will be back.
The maximum penalty on this is 6 months in jail even if he were to serve that he would still be still be able to come back and work at this department?
Preciado answered, "Yes."
We have received multiple reports of a protest planned for tomorrow at the Mills Police Station and Preciado is aware of it. All he asks is protesters remain peaceful. He also asks for social media attacks against Miller stop.