Update: LBPD K-9 Ozzy’s Death Not a System Failure- Reprinted with permission of Beachcomber

  • 08/29/2019
  • Reporters Desk

Long Beach News

Writer Stephen Downing has obtained new, disturbing information relative to the K-9’s death and its handler. Read the exclusive story here:

[Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of the “Breaking News” online posting on Aug. 26 appearing in our Aug. 30 print edition.] 

At 9:16 a.m. on August 23 the Long Beach Police Department pronounced from its Twitter account that it was “extremely saddened to announce the death of its K-9 Ozzy.”
The Tweet reported that at the time of his death, Ozzy and his handler were both off-duty and that the dog was inside the officer’s department-issued K-9 vehicle.
The Tweet did not report the fact that the cause of death was heat-related, as had already been determined by a veterinarian.
Information as to Ozzy’s cause of death came when media organizations followed-up on the Tweet and learned from Chief Robert Luna’s media relations unit that the 6-year-old half Belgian Malinois and half German shepherd had been found by his handler dead in the K-9 equipped police vehicle mid-afternoon on August 14.
At that time Chief Luna’s spokesperson acknowledged that LBPD K-9 vehicles are outfitted with “fail-safe” equipment meant to signal an alert and stated that, “at this time we believe this alert may not have been working.”
Luna’s spokesperson declined to name Ozzy’s handler, but stated, “We ask that you respect the handler and his family.”
The Twitter account erupted with ugly memes and comment lamenting Ozzy’s death with competing expressions of outrage and sympathy toward his handler, calls for criminal prosecution, criticism of the LBPD administration and speculation as to what went wrong.
The Beachcomber reached out to LBPD and City Hall insiders and confirmed prior information in our possession that Ozzy is a narcotic scent dog assigned to the LBPD’s drug enforcement unit, that the K-9 vehicle used by his handler is not a marked black and white police vehicle but rather a black unmarked SUV and that his handler is Detective Christopher Thue, a LBPD drug enforcement officer.
The Beachcomber has published a total of six articles in the past related to LBPD enforcement activity in which Detective Thue was involved.
One was a two-part series published in March 2016 that reported Detective Thue’s involvement in the raid of a medical marijuana establishment where a preponderance of evidence pointed to the detective as having colluded with another drug enforcement detective to present written probable cause to a superior court judge in order to obtain a search warrant by falsely reporting the manner in which the K-9, Ozzy, was employed to confirm the scent of marijuana.
The second was a four-part series that began in May 2017 entitled “Destroying Lives: LB Criminal Justice System “that exposed Detective Thue’s participation in an egregious LBPD raid on a 49-year Long Beach resident and medical cannabis advocate in which Thue falsely represented himself to be an expert in the identification of marijuana oil extracted by a process known as BHO and was alleged to have falsely reported incriminating statements made by the 72-year-old medical marijuana patient.
Beachcomber sources – all of whom wish to remain anonymous – reported the following concerning Ozzy’s death:
  1. That the alert system on the K-9 vehicle was found by Long Beach City Fleet Services to be in working order.
  2. That the name of the alert system examined by Long Beach City Fleet services is AceWatchdog.
  3. That Detective Thue had not equipped his cell phone with the web-based app to receive voice and text alerts when the interior of the K-9 vehicle overheated.
  4. That Detective Thue downloaded the application following Ozzy’s death.
  5. That Detective Thue had worked 20 hours continuously prior to the time he parked the K-9 vehicle, leaving Ozzy inside.
  6. That Detective Thue is a principle business owner and corporate officer in three separate businesses, two of which are in the marijuana industry.
The LBPD was asked if marijuana industry employment is considered to be a conflict of interest for department drug enforcement officers. A response is pending.
On Saturday, Aug. 24, the LBPD media relations unit was asked to comment upon each of the first four pieces of information via email.
Chief Luna’s media spokesperson wrote back the same day and stated, “As this is not breaking news, we will look into your inquiry on Monday during regular business hours.”
On Sunday, Aug. 25, the Beachcomber added the 5th piece of information to our request for comment and requested a reply by our noon deadline on Monday, Aug. 26 for the online publication.
On Monday, Aug. 26 at 10:42 a.m. Luna’s spokesperson acknowledged receipt of the 5th request for comment and wrote, “At this time, we are still gathering information as part of the review of the incident and will let you know when additional information is available.”
On Tuesday, August 27 the Beachcomber added the 6th item and Luna’s spokesperson later responded that, “We received your inquiries and will look into your request.”
On Aug. 26, the Beachcomber was able to make contact with Sheryl Buller, a representative of AceK-9, the Florida-based company that manufactures, licenses and supports the cloud-based alert systems installed in LBPD K-9 vehicles.
When asked about the alleged failure of the AceDogWatch system installed on Thue’s K-9 vehicle Ms. Buller said, “I can tell you that our equipment in that LBPD vehicle did not fail and that it functioned perfectly.”
When asked if she could verify if Detective Thue did or did not download or connect the AceDogWatch web-based app following Ozzy’s death she stated, “I can’t comment on the fact that the officer failed to download the app.”
Ms. Buller politely declined to answer any further questions and offered to have the owner of the company, John Johnston, return the call.
Twenty minutes later Johnston called and stated that the information provided to the Beachcomber by Ms. Buller was to be withdrawn, that the company would have no statement as to whether the system did or did not fail and that “I don’t want to get into the middle of anything here. The LBPD is best situated to answer your questions.”
Johnston also declined to answer questions related to the functions of the AceWatchDog web app system as reported in the user guide on the company website.
The Beachcomber’s review of the AceWatchDog user guide reveals that the AceWatchDog web app alert system requires the user to log in to create a new account in order to receive a dashboard link for use on any smart phone or iPad that connects to a designated phone number which calls and texts the K-9 officer when the heat alarm reaches the designated danger level.
The system also, “lets you know if your vehicle is located in a good or poor cellular signal area,” and “during an alarm, voice calls and texts are sent to your phone(s) and to ALL your other alarm contacts,” a reference to the fact that up to four other backup phones can receive the alerts.
The Beachcomber has been unable to determine if the AceWatchDog system for Detective Thue’s assigned vehicle was connected to any cell phone.
The Beachcomber has also been unable to determine detective Thue’s current duty status, where he was and what he was doing during the period Ozzy was confined in the K-9 vehicle or whether a decision has been made by the LBPD to pursue criminal charges for violation of Penal Code Section 597.7, the law that prohibits leaving an animal in any unattended vehicle under conditions that endanger the animal. Violations are punishable by a fine of $500 and imprisonment up to six months.
One insider reported that Detective Thue worked 20 continuous hours prior to leaving Ozzy in the LBPD K-9 vehicle. The Beachcomber has not yet been able to independently confirm the statement.
Thue’s assignment is such that his overtime hours are not reported by name on the public salary website, Transparent California, because of his specialized assignment. He is listed among those the LBPD identify as: “Name Not Provided.”
In 2018 the LBPD listed 72 sworn employees under the “Name Not Provided” category. Those 72 individual police officers earned a cumulative total of $6,173,984 in overtime or an average of $85,749 each, in addition to their base salary and benefits.
A web search reveals that Detective Thue is registered on LinkedIn as being employed since 2010 by ACE Jiu-Jitsu in Fountain Valley.
A public records search reveals that Thue is registered as the principle owner of Sequence Therapy, LLC, located at 1 Corporate Plaza Drive in Newport Beach. Records document that the company was established in 2016, has annual revenue of $80,192 and employs a staff of approximately 7.
Sequence Therapy operates in the marijuana industry sector and lists its website to be www.advantiscorp.com.
The Advantis Corporation (ADVT) (U.S.:OTC) is a publicly traded Marijuana Company that reports Detective Thue as one of its four key corporate officers.
Advantis Corporation lists its address in Newport Beach at 1048 Irvine Avenue, which is a UPS Store that advertises its services as “your resource for mailbox, shipping and printing services.”
The public records address for Sequence Therapy is a 3-office building owned and occupied by Pacific Development Group whose two lessors include a gym and a construction company. A Pacific Development employee stated that she has never heard of Sequence Therapy, LLC or Christopher Thue.
Sequence Therapy, LLC lists its contact phone number as (562) 484- 4618.
A source inside the LBPD informed the Beachcomber that Detective Thue has used the phone number for personal and police business for the past 10 years.
The source stated, “That phone number, (562) 484-4618, listed on the website, is his personal cell phone. Anyone that knows him can confirm that. It is also the number he uses for work because he refuses to carry his work cell. He has been ordered to carry it but refuses.”
The Beachcomber called the number on the morning of Aug. 27 and received an operator response that “this number cannot be completed as dialed.”
The Beachcomber was unable to determine when the number was disconnected, but did find the number listed to Chris Thue on the “findcontactnumbers.com” website.
It is not yet known if (562) 484-4618 is the phone used by Thue to set up the AceWatchDog web app system following the death of Ozzy.
One source informed the Beachcomber that since the LBPD’s Twitter announcement Detective Thue has received death threats and has been moved to a safe location and provided with 24-hour security. The LBPD has not yet confirmed that information.
The Beachcomber has filed a public records request with the LBPD for records that document Thue’s overtime earnings and duty assignment since 2010 in addition to all documents that identify disciplinary and integrity complaints made against the detective, as provided by Senate Bill 1421, which became effective Jan. 1, 2019.
The Beachcomber has also recommended to Councilperson Suzie Price, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, to agenize and recommend to the City Council that the city establish policy for the LBPD – authorized by a unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court on August 25 – to require the LBPD to alert the city prosecutor and district attorney with complete and updated lists of all errant police officers who might testify in a criminal case.
The California Supreme Court decision overturned a Court of Appeal ruling that barred former LBPD Chief and L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell from giving prosecutors the names of deputies whose disciplinary records included lying, taking bribes, using unreasonable force or engaging in domestic violence.
Insiders indicate that Ozzy will most likely be interred at the K-9 cemetery located at the LBPD police academy, where they alleged (and the Beachcomber has been unable to verify) that two other LBPD K-9s, also left to die in a hot police vehicle, are buried.
Also among the deceased K-9s buried at the police academy is Credo, who was killed by LBPD friendly fire in 2016.
At the time of this publication Chief Luna’s media representatives have yet to respond to the Beachcomber’s request for comment on the six identified issues.
Editor’s Note: LBPD responded to our request for comment on Wednesday with this statement: “After conducting a review of the circumstances surrounding the death of K-9 Ozzy, the Department has initiated an Internal Affairs investigation to obtain additional facts and  information pertaining to the incident.  As we continue to mourn the loss of Ozzy, we understand the emotional impact this is having on our community and our employees.  We respect everyone’s right to share their opinions, however, we will not provide further comment until the Internal Affairs investigation has concluded.”

Stephen Downing is a retired LAPD deputy chief of police and a resident of Long Beach.

Stephen.Beachcomber@gmail.com

 

[Editor’s Note: Following is the original story posted on Monday, August 26, which was updated by the preceeding.]

At 9:16 a.m. on August 23 the Long Beach Police Department pronounced from its Twitter account that it was “extremely saddened to announce the death of its K-9 Ozzy.”

The Tweet reported that at the time of his death, Ozzy and his handler were both off-duty and that the dog was inside the officer’s department-issued K-9 vehicle.

The Tweet did not report the fact that the cause of death was heat-related, as had already been determined by a veterinarian.

Information as to Ozzy’s cause of death came when media organizations followed-up on the Tweet and learned from Chief Robert Luna’s media relations unit that the 6-year-old half Belgian Malinois and half German shepherd had been found by his handler dead in the K-9 equipped police vehicle mid-afternoon on August 14.

At that time Chief Luna’s spokesperson acknowledged that LBPD K-9 vehicles are outfitted with “fail-safe” equipment meant to signal an alert and stated that, “at this time we believe this alert may not have been working.”

Luna’s spokesperson declined to name Ozzy’s handler, but stated, “We ask that you respect the handler and his family.

The Twitter account erupted with ugly memes and comment lamenting Ozzy’s death with competing expressions of outrage and sympathy toward his handler, calls for criminal prosecution, criticism of the LBPD administration and speculation as to what went wrong.

The Beachcomber reached out to LBPD and City Hall insiders and confirmed prior information in our possession that Ozzy is a narcotic scent dog assigned to the LBPD’s drug enforcement unit, that the K-9 vehicle used by his handler in not a marked black and white police vehicle but rather a black unmarked SUV and that his handler is Detective Christopher Thue, a LBPD drug enforcement officer.

The Beachcomber has published a total of six articles in the past related to LBPD enforcement activity in which Detective Thue was involved.

One was a two-part series published in March 2016 that reported Detective Thue’s involvement in the raid of a medical marijuana establishment where a preponderance of evidence pointed to the detective as having colluded with another drug enforcement detective to present written probable cause to a superior court judge in order to obtain a search warrant by falsely reporting the manner in which the K-9, Ozzy, was employed to confirm the scent of marijuana.

The second was a four-part series that began in May 2017 entitled “Destroying Lives: LB Criminal Justice System” that exposed Detective Thue’s participation in an egregious LBPD raid on a 49-year Long Beach resident and medical cannabis advocate in which Thue falsely represented himself to be an expert in the identification of marijuana oil extracted by a process known as BHO and was alleged to have falsely reported incriminating statements made by the 72 -year-old medical marijuana patient.

Over the weekend of August 24-25, the Beachcomber sources – all of whom wish to remain anonymous reported the following concerning Ozzy’s death:

  1. That the alert system on the K-9 vehicle was found by Long Beach City Fleet Services to be in working order.
  2. That the name of the alert system examined by Long Beach City Fleet services is AceWatchdog.
  3. That Detective Thue had not equipped his cell phone with the web-based app to receive voice and text alerts when the interior of the K-9 vehicle overheated.
  4. That Detective Thue downloaded the application following Ozzy’s death.
  5. That Detective Thue had worked 20 hours continuously prior to the time he parked the K-9 vehicle, leaving Ozzie inside.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, the LBPD media relations unit was asked to comment upon each of the first four pieces of information via email.

Chief Luna’s media spokesperson wrote back the same day and stated, “As this is not breaking news, we will look into your inquiry on Monday during regular business hours.”

On Sunday, Aug. 25, the Beachcomber added the 5th piece of information to our request for comment and requested a reply by our noon deadline on Monday, Aug. 26.

On Monday, Aug. 26 at 10:42 a.m. Luna’s spokesperson acknowledged receipt of the 5th request for comment and wrote, “At this time, we are still gathering information as part of the review of the incident and will let you know when additional information is available.”

On Aug. 26, the Beachcomber was able to make contact with Sheryl Buller, a representative of AceK-9, the Florida-based company that manufactures, licenses and supports the cloud-based alert systems installed in LBPD K-9 vehicles.

When asked about the alleged failure of the AceDogWatch system installed on Thue’s K-9 vehicle Ms. Buller said, “I can tell you that our equipment in that LBPD vehicle did not fail and that it functioned perfectly.”

When asked if she could verify if Detective Thue did or did not download or connect the AceDogWatch web-based app following Ozzy’s death she stated, “I can’t comment on the fact that the officer failed to download the app.”

Ms. Buller politely declined to answer any further questions and offered to have the owner of the company, John Johnston, return the call.

Twenty minutes later Johnston called and stated that the information provided to the Beachcomber by Ms. Buller was to be withdrawn, that the company would have no statement as to whether the system did or did not fail and that “I don’t want to get into the middle of anything here. The LBPD is best situated to answer your questions.”

Johnston also declined to answer questions related to the functions of the AceWatchDog web app system as reported in the user guide on the company website.

The Beachcomber’s review of the user guide reveals that the AceWatchDog web app alert system requires the user to log in to create a new account in order to receive a dashboard link for use on any smartphone or iPad that connects to a designated phone number which calls and texts the K-9 officer when the heat alarm reaches the designated danger level.

The system also, “lets you know if your vehicle is located in a good or poor cellular signal area,” and “during an alarm, voice calls and texts are sent to your phone(s) and to ALL your other alarm contacts, ” a reference to the fact that up to four other backup phones can receive the alerts.

The Beachcomber has been unable to determine if the AceWatchDog system for Detective Thue’s assigned vehicle was connected to any cell phone.

The Beachcomber has also been unable to determine detective Thue’s current duty status or whether a decision has been made by the LBPD to pursue criminal charges for leaving Ozzy in the K-9 vehicle.

One insider’s report that Detective Thue worked 20 continuous hours prior to leaving Ozzy in the LBPD K-9 vehicle has not been independently confirmed.

Thue’s assignment is such that his overtime hours are not reported by name on the public salary website, Transparent California, because of his specialized assignment. He is listed among those the LBPD identify as: “Name Not Provided.”

In 2018 the LBPD listed 72 sworn employees under the “Name Not Provided” category. Those 72 individual police officers earned a cumulative total of $6,173,984 in overtime or an average of $85,749 each, in addition to their base salary and benefits.

Insiders indicate that Ozzy will most likely be interred at the K-9 cemetery located at the LBPD police academy, where they alleged (and the Beachcomber has been unable to verify) that two other LBPD K-9s, also left to die in a hot police vehicle, are buried.

Also among the deceased K-9s buried at the police academy is Credo, who was killed by LBPD friendly fire in 2016.

At the time of this publication Chief Luna’s media representatives had yet to respond to the Beachcomber’s request for comment on the five identified issues.

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

 

Stephen Downing is a retired LAPD deputy chief of police and a resident of Long Beach.

Stephen.Beachcomber@gmail.com

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4 Comments

  • Pingback: Update: LBPD K-9 Ozzy's Death Not a System Failure- Reprinted with permission of Beachcomber - Random Lengths - C4 FL (Edit)

  • Mike Ruehle

    Looking back, Long Beach police have a long history of their K-9s dying from their handler’s negligence, something a normal citizen would be arrested for. Seven LBPD K-9s have died from unnatural causes since 2001. The cause of death for several more are listed as “unknown.” What does Long Beach Police think about that?

    “These K-9s are not just dogs. These are police officers. This dog was injured in the performance of his duty and that’s going to weigh heavily on the Long Beach police family,” LBPD Deputy Chief Richard Conant said. This comment was made following the 2016 friendly fire shooting of K-9 Credo by a unidentified fellow Long Beach police officer. Yet, what Deputy Chief Conant failed to mention was officer Mike Parcells, K-9 Credo’s handler, failed to outfit Credo in the body armor he had been issued to protect Credo from such circumstances. Soon afterwards, office Parcells was issued another K-9. Apparently the Long Beach Police “family” didn’t find it negligent for officer Parcells to fail to outfit Credo in his issued body armor.

    Especially enlightening is the case of LBPD K-9 Drago, who, like Ozzy, died of heat exhaustion in 2005 when his handler, Officer Ernie Wolosewicz, left him unattended in his car. The investigation concluded the air-conditioning unit failed in the police cruiser he was waiting in. Not only was Officer Wolosewicz NOT charged with animal cruelty, he was soon after promoted to Sergeant, was provided two new dogs and now supervises the department’s K9 unit. Go figure.

    When LBPD Deputy Chief Richard Conant spoke in 2016 of the “Long Beach police family,” it almost appears as if he was imitating Marlon Brando in the God Father, speaking about his Mafia family where negligence and heartless animal cruelty cover-ups are a way of business for the “family.” It’s too bad Ozzy probably won’t be the last to die from police negligence.

    • 10:19 pm - 08/29/2019

    • Reply
  • Whitney smith

    THANK YOU RLN for reprinting STEPHEN DOWLINGS most important article about OZZY. I have posted this article and sent to major outlets CNN local news too and NOT ONE picked up these horrifying facts. This story is being swept under the rug by LBPD. This death is a CRIME CA PENAL CODE 597.7. Its animal cruelty and Officer Thue not only needs to be charged with AC but also other violations as an officer HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD even than joe blow citizen who WOULD be charged with 597.7 not to mention What was Off duty Officer doing for so long leaving LAPD K-9 Ozzy in the car? He is the HANDLER that dog is PROPERTY of
    The LBPD and the citizens who pay taxes paid for that dogs training. LBPD owes citizens complete transparency. Officer Thue didn’t leave Ozzy in car
    To grab a cool drink at 7-11. That dog was alone in the car for at least 20 min to die of heat stroke. It’s an AWFUL AGONIZING DEATH. Please RLN keep this story going. Ozzy will never see real justice which would be to be alive and see that deplorable POS officer Thue get his ass fired. This is OUTRAGEOUS what happened. NO EXCUSE.

    • 4:53 pm - 09/06/2019

    • Reply
  • Whitney smith

    Sorry STEPHEN DOWNING i didn’t spell this fantastic former officers name correctly. ! He and RLN are the only ppl sharing the TRUTH and thankful public who cares is VERY GRATEFUL!

    • 4:56 pm - 09/06/2019

    • Reply

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