Judge drops charge against UPS driver

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 26, 2009

The judge said the video didn’t show the dog being struck and a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty was dismissed against a United Parcel Service driver in Warren County Justice Court on Tuesday.

The driver and UPS still face a separate civil suit in Warren County Court seeking unspecified monetary damages.

“I was fairly stunned and disappointed,” said the dog’s owner, John Storey, after the charges were dismissed.

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Photos and images from a home security system at the home of the dog’s owner sparked a wave of public interest in the case. It appeared to show the driver striking the dog with a long, rod-like object while delivering a package to the Storey’s Stenson Road residence.

Following a frame-by-frame viewing of the video, Justice Court Judge Joe Crevitt ruled it was unclear from the footage whether the dog had been struck. The charges carried up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Storey said the dog, a Belgian Malinois named Taz, once reported to have been euthanized, has returned home from a local veterinary clinic, but doctors were unable to save his right eye.

Portions of the video shown on a Jackson television station appeared to show the driver striking the dog once near the top of the head before dropping the package close to the door. On advice from hired legal counsel, Storey declined further dissemination of the video.

Warren County Court records show a suit was filed Feb. 13 — a week after the incident — by Storey against UPS and the driver. In it, Storey alleges UPS “failed to adequately train and instruct” the driver on proper guidelines and procedures in such situations and seeks damages tied to medical bills and the expense and training of the dog as a “personal protection canine.”

In a response, the driver has denied swinging a weapon “with great violence” but admitted he “did take necessary measures for self-defense.”

Named as plaintiffs in the civil suit include Storey’s wife, Dana, and their children. The local firm of Varner, Parker & Sessums has been retained by the Storeys, while former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz has been retained by UPS and its driver.  

UPS officials have said drivers are advised they can defend themselves against animals they perceive as threats, but carrying sticks is not condoned.

Also, the worldwide parcel delivery giant does not supply its drivers with weapons. Instead, company officials have said, diversions such as dog biscuits are allowed to deter dogs from harming delivery drivers.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at dbarrett@vicksburgpost.com