ELK POINT, S.D. -- When Derek McIntosh shot a stray cat and then lied to the animal's owner and his supervisors about it, he violated the public's trust in law enforcement.
That trust is vital, Magistrate Judge Kasey Sorensen told the former North Sioux City police officer, and his actions on May 5 added up to an abuse of his authority.
"Simply because you were on duty does not absolve you of criminal liability," Sorensen said.
Because of that abuse of authority, Sorensen said, she sentenced McIntosh on Friday to 180 days in jail on a charge of killing or injuring an animal. Sorensen suspended 150 days of the sentence, leaving McIntosh with 30 days to serve in jail. Sorensen suspended a 30-day jail sentence for misconduct and fined McIntosh a total of $750 on both charges. He also was placed on probation for one year. Both charges are misdemeanors.
McIntosh declined to make any comments to the court before he was sentenced.
His attorney, Scott Rhinehart, of Sioux City, said the prosecution was "making a mountain out of a molehill here" and that it was "unthinkable" for McIntosh to go to jail for following orders, something he's been trained to do in his years of service in the Iowa Army National Guard.
"He was ordered to take that cat out to the country and get rid of it," said Rhinehart, who requested suspended jail sentences.
The Union County Circuit Court jury that heard the evidence and found McIntosh guilty on Oct. 18 obviously didn't believe McIntosh was following orders, Sorensen said.
In addition to the two guilty verdicts, jurors found McIntosh, 35, not guilty of two counts of filing a false report. At trial, Sorensen dismissed a charge of falsification of public documents by an officer.
McIntosh shot the cat, which belonged to a North Sioux City man and his girlfriend on May 5 in the North Sioux City cemetery. Other North Sioux City police officers had heard rumors that McIntosh had been taking cats caught in traps to the cemetery and shooting them rather than taking them to a Sioux City animal shelter in case someone wanted to claim them.
An indictment alleges that while Adam Smith worked in Michigan, he falsified patient medical records and miscategorized cosmetic procedures to make them appear eligible for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. He began practicing in Sioux City after leaving Michigan.
On May 9, police Capt. Dustin Sharkey and Chief Richard Headid went to the cemetery and found two dead cats, along with a pair of rubber gloves that appeared to be the same type used by the police department.
Headid, along with Mayor Randy Fredrickson and city administrator Ted Cherry, confronted McIntosh, who said he had shot cats in the past, but denied shooting the cat that belonged to the North Sioux City couple. McIntosh later admitted that he shot the cat after being told he would be placed on administrative leave.
McIntosh was subsequently fired.
McIntosh is to turn himself in on Nov. 18 to begin serving his sentence. Rhinehart said he plans to appeal the verdict.
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