CHELSEA, Vt. (AP) - A prosecutor has dropped charges against a woman who was arrested for staring at and making faces at a police dog.
"Prosecuting a woman for `staring' at a police dog is absurd," said her lawyer. "People are allowed to make faces at police dogs and officers to express their disapproval. It's constitutional expression," said public defender Kelly Green, who represented Jayna Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, 33, of Lebanon, N.H., was charged with cruelty to a police animal and resisting arrest after a July 31 incident in West Fairlee in which police were called to a market to investigate a report of a brawl. They were approached by Hutchinson, who told one officer she had been assaulted the day before by one of the men involved.
She asked Vermont State Police Sgt. Todd Protzman to take her statement but he refused, telling her she smelled like alcohol and was drunk but that he would take her statement at another time.
After a heated exchange, she approached Protzman's cruiser, where his dog Max was waiting, putting her face within inches of the window and "staring at him in a taunting/harassing manner," Protzman wrote in an affidavit.
"While the defendant taunted my canine, Max was focused on the defendant and the perceived threat she presented to him," the affidavit said. "He was no longer focused on me and the other officers at the scene."
Officers arrested Hutchinson, adding the resisting arrest charge because she pulled her arms and upper body away during the arrest. She registered 0.21 percent blood-alcohol content on a breath test, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in Vermont.
On Tuesday, two days before Hutchinson was to go to trial, Orange County State's Attorney Will Porter decided to drop the charges, after viewing a videotape of the incident over the weekend.
"I think it was going to be difficult to prove her conduct changed the dog's behavior," Porter said. "Most of the time (in harassment cases) people would come tell the court what it felt like. Dogs can't do that."
Without the cruelty charge, jurors would be unlikely to convict her on the resisting arrest, Porter said.