Police in Tampa, Florida, have said a Pasco County Sheriff's Office deputy fatally stomped on his girlfriend's cat in fit of rage.
Eric Harris was arrested by the Tampa Police Department at his home on August 31.
Harris Facing Charges of Felony Animal Cruelty.
Harris is now facing charges of felony animal cruelty. According to Tampa Police, Harris had an argument with his girlfriend of six months on August 21 over her two pet cats.
The former couple had recently moved in together to a Tampa apartment, but Harris was upset over his girlfriend's pets defecating on the apartment floor outside of their litter box and climbing onto counters and furniture.
When Harris' girlfriend returned to the property on August 22, she allegedly found both cats hiding in their crate. One cat, a 3-year-old named Axel, reportedly had broken and bleeding toenails, and according to Tampa Police, the animal was acting out of character and was unable to use its rear legs to stand up.
Harris' girlfriend took the cat to a veterinarian in Sarasota to be checked out, where the feline was then referred to an animal hospital for urgent care for its injuries.
Cat's Cause of Death Revealed as Blunt Force Trauma
The same day, Axel died, and the veterinarian contacted law enforcement with concern over the severity of the cat's injuries. Police said that Harris denied any wrongdoing and said the cat was fine while he was in the apartment with the animal.
Days later, on August 26, the Florida Department of Law and Enforcement conducted a necropsy on Axel and ruled his death was caused by blunt force trauma.
There was severe hemorrhaging and bruising to internal organs and facial injuries, including a missing tooth and marks on his body indicating that he had been stomped on. Harris was let go from his role at Pasco Sheriff's Office when he was arrested.
In Florida, aggravated animal cruelty is classed as, "A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal, or a person who owns or has the custody or control of any animal and fails to act, which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done." Such a felony of the third degree is punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.