Toronto police horse killed in hit & run
It was a heartbreaking act of mercy that will likely never escape the memories of those involved.
After a mounted police officer and his horse were knocked down in an alleged hit and run Friday night, officers were forced to shoot the animal, which was enduring excruciating pain.
The tragic incident took place at Lawrence and Kingston Road just before 7pm.
The officer suffered neck, back and rib injuries and he has since been released from hospital, but he is very troubled over the loss of his partner, a horse with five years service named Brigadier.
Emotions ran high at the scene and people who saw the incident were deeply shaken.
“There was a lot of commotion around the horse and the officers I guess did as much as they could. And then we all heard two loud gunshots,” witness Jane Evans explained as she tried to hold back tears.
The death of the majestic creature shook even veteran officers. The last time a horse had to be put down was four years ago.
“These horses mean a lot to us,” said Staff Insp. Bill Wardle. “No one would be in the Mounted Unit if they didn't like horses and it was difficult.”
Chief Bill Blair was quick to respond to the tragedy.
“This is a devastating incident for the officers involved and for all of our officers. We lost an important partner tonight,” he said.
“The officers of the Mounted Unit that had to experience this and make the very difficult decision to end this animal's suffering, they were devastated by the loss.”
Witnesses said the horse and the officer were crossing from the south side of Lawrence to the north side when they were struck by a van going westbound.
The pair was patrolling with another mounted officer when someone told them about a man using a drive-through ATM who was cursing at the person in front of him.
The mounted officers approached and asked the man to pull over, but the driver apparently sped away instead. The officers rode away and that’s when the motorist allegedly made a U-turn on Lawrence and aimed his vehicle at the horse and officer.
Police claim the hit was intentional and the suspect accelerated toward the victims.
Investigators located an abandoned vehicle, a dark coloured minivan, in the Orton Park and Lawrence area and allegedly found horsehair embedded in the shattered window. After finding the van, investigators arrested a suspect at his home.
Dirk Sankersingh, 42, is facing charges of dangerous driving and failing to stop after an accident. He appeared in court Saturday morning.
The Mounted Unit is a team of 27 horses and their riders. They regularly patrol parks and downtown districts. Mounted officers were in the Lawrence and Kingston Road area as part of a new initiative to keep an eye on the neighbourhood. For more information on the unit, click here.
This was the second incident involving a police horse in the last week. On Sunday, two dogs attacked a member of the mounted unit and his steed, after the owner lost control of the canines' leashes on the Exhibition grounds.
That horse, a 17-year-old named Trooper with 14 years of service, is expected to recover and return to duty.