FOLCROFT, Pa. —A police officer who lost his longtime K9 companion had his day made worse by a judge who took no mercy on his plight.
After euthanizing his ailing partner “Umberto” Tuesday night, Folcroft police Cpl. Christopher Eiserman sought a continuance for a drug case listed Wednesday morning on Senior Magisterial District Judge Horace Z. Davis' court docket.
Instead, Davis surprisingly tossed the case on its first listing, apparently saying the officer's reason for seeking a continuance “was not valid,” Eiserman said Wednesday night.
“Not valid? I was on the vet's floor bawling my eyes out,” the veteran law enforcement officer said of his situation less than 12 hours before he was due in Davis' court for the preliminary hearing.
And after leaving the vet's office late Tuesday, Eiserman went home to face the difficult task of cleaning out Umberto's space and belongings.
“It was a long night,” Eiserman said. “I was mourning the loss of a partner I had since 2006.”
Contacted Wednesday night, Davis responded, “There is no discussion on it.”
Eiserman, who was due in court at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, said he returned to the police station in the wee hours Wednesday and wrote a letter requesting the continuance, as per the judge's policy. He left the letter for the police secretary.
The court case in question involved Dennis McKenzie, a 36-year-old man who allegedly had 150 grams of marijuana when he was arrested on charges including possession with the intent to deliver in January, according to authorities.
“I followed up the letter with a phone call Wednesday morning. I spoke directly to the police secretary. She spoke to the court clerk, who said it was OK,” Eiserman said. “There's never been any problem like this before. It's common.”
According to Folcroft Officer Tom Kesser, who was in the courtroom for an unrelated matter, Davis dismissed the charges against McKenzie, despite attempts by the assistant district attorney to explain Eiserman's absence.
“She was very professional,” Kesser said of the newly assigned prosecutor whose name escaped him. “She told the judge that the officer had a death in the family, which he did,” Kesser said.
Kesser doesn't believe that Davis at that point knew that the prosecutor was referring to Eiserman's K-9 partner as the family member.
“He just said something along the line that it wasn't reason enough to grant a continuance,” Kesser said.
When another case on the docket requiring testimony from Eiserman was called, Kesser said the prosecutor again requested a continuance because of a death in the officer's family.
Kesser said Davis then made a comment along the lines, “What? A dog?”
Recognizing the bond between Eiserman and Umberto, Kesser said he told the judge, “It's not just a dog. It's his partner for 12 years.”
Kesser said his outburst drew no immediate response from Davis.
“He just looked at me,” Kesser said.