A former Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office K-9 deputy accused of animal cruelty after shooting a small dog in the head pleaded no contest to the allegations against him and must now complete 80 hours of community service to avoid jail time.
Keenan Wallace, 37, was charged in early April 2019 by a special prosecutor with one count of animal cruelty after a video clip that showed him shooting a small dog – Reese’s – in the head on Jan. 4, 2019, went viral.
The former K-9 deputy was scheduled to stand trial March 25-26 but instead pleaded “no contest” to the animal cruelty charge on Wednesday in Faulkner County Circuit Court.
Following the negotiated plea, Wallace was ordered to complete 80 hours of community service within 120 days in lieu of a year-long jail sentence. If the former deputy does not complete the community service hours in the allotted time frame, the one-year sentence would be imposed.
A nolo contendere (or no contest) plea is equivalent to a guilty plea under Arkansas law. With this plea, a defendant “does not specifically admit the allegations which form the basis for the offenses charged against him/her, and elects not to contest such allegations, the nolo contendere plea will, for all purposes, be treated by the Court the same as a guilty plea.”
Along with community service, Fifth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Jeffery Wayne Phillips, who was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case, recommended the former deputy undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
During the brief hearing on Wednesday, Circuit Judge Troy Braswell Jr. approved the recommendation, requiring Wallace to “complete (a) psychiatric or psychological evaluation within 60 days” of the signed order.
Online records show the deputy was also ordered to pay a $640 fine alongside other court fees.
The video clip captured by resident Doug Canady went viral Jan. 4. 2019, the night Wallace shot Reese’s, a 9-pound, Chihuahua-mix breed.
Records show that Wallace responded to a 911 call made shortly before 4:30 p.m. on the day in question by a woman who reported feeling threatened by the small dog.
After responding to the disturbance, Wallace confronted Canady about a complaint made by the woman walking through the neighborhood regarding Reese’s. The woman claimed she was attacked by the small dog and that Reese’s frequently chases after her.
After Canady reportedly refused to step in the roadway to speak with Wallace about the incident, the former deputy told him he “would act accordingly” if the dog threatened his safety, according to an incident report.
At some point during his conversation with Canady, the former deputy said the dog “lunged” toward him, which is when he reacted by firing “one round into the animal ... striking and stopping the threat.”
Wallace was fired from the sheriff’s office on Jan. 5, 2019.
In an affidavit against Wallace, Canady said he felt the former deputy “was frustrated at my response to his demands while on private property instead of any fear of Reese’s.”