CHELSEA, Vt. – A prosecutor has dropped charges against a woman who was arrested for staring at and making faces at a police dog.
Thirty-three-year-old Jayna Hutchinson of Lebanon, New Hamphire, was charged with cruelty to a police animal and resisting arrest after an incident last summer.
Police were called to a market in West Fairlee 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.
Irate because they wouldn't take her statement, she allegedly taunted a police dog named Max who was in a police cruiser — without touching the dog.
Officers arrested Hutchinson, adding the resisting arrest charge because she pulled her arms and upper body away during the arrest.
Orange County State's Attorney Will Porter dropped the charges yesterday after viewing a videotape of the incident.
"After looking at the video, I did not think it was worthwhile proceeding," Porter said Tuesday.
"Prosecuting a woman for staring at a police dog is absurd," Kelly Green, a public defender appointed by Vermont District Court in Orange County to represent Hutchinson, told the Times Argus newspaper in Montpelier. Green likened the act to giving a police officer the finger – a form of expression protected by rights accorded under the First Amendment.
According to an affidavit, Hutchinson approached Sgt. Todd Protzman on the night of July 31 as he and at least three other officers were investigating a fight, the newpaper reported. Hutchinson, who later registered a .218 blood-alcohol content, told Protzman she wanted to report that she had been beat up the night before by one of the men involved in the fight, according to Green.
Green said the video showed Protzman mocking Hutchinson's appearance.
"I think his comment about Jayna's looks revealed the real reason he arrested her," Green told the newspaper. "I'd venture a guess to say that if she'd been small and pretty and had been complaining of being assaulted, he may have done more to investigate her claims."
Porter said he saw no indication of improper behavior by Protzman and that he was doing his best to deal with a very intoxicated person, the newspaper reported.
"Ms. Hutchinson was very intoxicated. Did he have some abrupt comments toward her? Yeah," Porter said. "He had some curt responses to get her out of his hair so he could attend to what he was there for."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.