Former correctional officer indicted in heat-related death of K9

January 31, 2023

A former Delaware correctional officer who was also a K9 handler faces charges after a grand jury indicted him in connection with the death of a K9.

Officials say Darrel Wiley, 45, was on duty at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna in September 2022 when he left a 4-year-old law enforcement animal named Lux confined and unattended in an official vehicle. Temperatures that day reached a high of more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, officials said, and when Wiley returned to his vehicle, he found Lux dead. The Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust investigated and found Wiley’s misconduct was not new: from June to September 2022, he was found to have repeatedly left Lux confined in his vehicle, officials said.

Following Lux's death, the Department of Correction placed Wiley on administrative leave, initiated an internal investigation, and contacted animal welfare investigators to conduct an independent investigation. Wiley is no longer employed by the Delaware Department of Correction.

The grand jury indicted Wiley on one count each of first-degree assault against a law enforcement animal, cruelty to animals and official misconduct. 

"Department of Correction K9s are valued members of our correctional family, and the circumstances of K9 Lux's death are deeply disturbing and unacceptable,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Monroe B. Hudson Jr. “The DOC maintains national best practice standards, implemented through excellent training and required certifications, to ensure that our K9s are used appropriately in our correctional facilities, and that they receive the protection and care they deserve. In addition to the independent investigation sought by the DOC which resulted in today's charges, our department has undertaken a comprehensive review of our K9 program to ensure that these teams across our facilities operate to the high standards of safety and security that we demand."




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