Bolivia, N.C. — A Brunswick County magistrate ruled Tuesday that a former Navassa police officer doesn't have to return the trained K-9 he handled to the police department.
Kevin Smith resigned from the Navassa Police Department in July after months of threats by Mayor Eulis Willis, whom Smith charged a year earlier with driving while impaired, according to the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association.
Smith had worked for the department for four years and had been the town's only trained K-9 handler. A trainer donated Luci to Navassa on the conditions that the town would cover all medical costs and fees and name Smith as the dog's owner and only handler.
After Smith resigned, the town refused to pay his accrued overtime and vacation time until he returned Luci to the police department, the PBA said in a statement.
Smith's family viewed Luci as the family pet, so he fought the town in civil court and won undisputed ownership of the dog, PBA Executive Director John Midgette said. There was no word on the fight over Smith's pay.