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Judge dismisses cruelty charges against trooper who hit loose horse with patrol vehicle

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — A judge has dismissed felony animal cruelty charges brought against a Pennsylvania state trooper who hit a loose horse with a patrol vehicle multiple times and pinned it to the pavement, where it was then euthanized.

The ruling came Tuesday after Chester County District Attorney Chris de Barrena-Sarobe notified the judge that Cpl. Michael Perillo’s attorney intended to argue at trial that the horse had to be hit to prevent a potentially serious accident. Noting that the law requires people to value to lives of humans over animals, Barrena-Sarobe said “I believe the necessity defense is valid and would be successful at trial.”

Perillo was suspended without pay after the charges were filed in July 2022 by the state police internal affairs division. He had faced two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, stemming from the December 2021 incident involving a horse on a highway in Chester County, west of Philadelphia.

The horse was on the road’s shoulder in Lower Oxford Township and had already been struck by a motorist before troopers were sent, authorities have said. Perillo drove a vehicle into the horse multiple times, causing it to fall, and then pinned the horse to the road. Another trooper then euthanized it.

Perillo, who enlisted in the state police in September 2006, was assigned to Troop J in Avondale. He has remained free on bail while awaiting trial.

His attorney, Williams Davis, told the West Chester Daily Local News that the decision to seek the dismissal was the correct choice and thanked the district attorney for seeking the dismissal.

“We always felt it was an unfair prosecution,” Davis said. “If my client had not taken action, things could have turned deadly. He was trying to protect other motorists.”

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