JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: A 19-year-old man who killed a police K-9 named Fang two years ago has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars. On Wednesday, October 28, Jhamel Malik Paskel was sentenced in Duval County Circuit Court after being tried as an adult. At the time of his arrest, Paskel was 17. He was arrested on six charges including the shooting of the dog, armed carjacking and kidnapping.
Out of the 25 years, five years were given to Paskel for fatally shooting the dog while the rest are for other charges, according to a report by News4Jax. The attorney defending Paskel had earlier requested for lighter sentencing since he faced up to 35 years in jail. The teen also showed remorse for the crimes he committed in 2018.
He told the court during a two-hour hearing last week that he was “a man ready to take responsibility for the mistakes I made as a child.” He added: “I would like to offer my apologies and condolences to Officer Herrera for not only the killing of his K-9 partner Fang, but his best friend. I want to apologize to the victims for scaring them that night. And I owe my mother the biggest apology for letting her down.”
For the Wednesday sentencing, Paskel appeared via a Zoom call. His mother also attended virtually and had earlier said to the court that her son suffers from learning disabilities and also had drug issues. She had assured the judge that she is doing all in her capacity to help him.
According to a report by Daily Mail, the sentencing came months after on December 18 last year, Paskel pleaded guilty to possession of a gun by a juvenile delinquent and aggravated fleeing as well as the armed robbery and the kidnapping of two women.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office report stated that all of Paskel’s crimes date back to 2018 when on September 30 at around 2.30 in the night, he carjacked a Chevrolet Cruze by pointing a gun at a 25-year-old woman at a gas station at 11900 Lem Turner Road.
He later ordered the woman and her 35-year-old passenger to get out of the vehicle before he drove it to the east. However, at the time, police managed to trace the location of the car with the help of its OnStar system, leading to a high-speed chase down Interstate 295.
Officers also stopped the engine of the car with OnStar system’s help but Paskel did not stop and escaped on foot into the woods. That’s when police dog Fang was released to chase down the culprit who shot and killed the three-year-old animal before being arrested by officers.
When the hearing into the case was going on, Assistant State Attorney LE Hutton had played a recording of the incident in the court. The recording also contained the moment when Fang was murdered. Hutton claimed that Paskel killed the canine “in cold blood”. Officer Matt Herrera, who used to look after the dog, also gave his statement before the court.
He said he freed Fang to catch the culprit but instead heard the dog yowl after a gun was fired. “He’s still a member of my family and it wasn’t just sad for me. It was my wife, kids and parents… to go back and see that empty kennel in the backyard and know that there is no dog there and to see the bloodstains in the truck that I had to clean up after he was killed,” Herrera added.
Reports stated that with 10 years of probation, Paskel will also have to complete the Operation New Hope program. Besides, he has to pay $8,000 in restitution to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. “We are glad to bring this case to resolution. His senseless killing underscores the dangers law enforcement face every day and it sparked changes in state law. This outcome finally achieves justice to Fang’s memory,” state attorney Melissa Nelson said, according to News4Jax.