Queens DA charges man with animal abuse after new unit formed

Courtesy of Queens DA

On the same day Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced his office had created an Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit, a Jackson Heights man was charged with aggravated animal cruelty after allegedly killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old Chihuahua.

“A Queens resident is accused of pulling his girlfriend’s small dog out of her hands during a verbal argument and killing the helpless animal by violently throwing the dog to the floor,” Brown said. “Such acts of aggression toward animals cannot—and will not—be tolerated.”

The mandate of the Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit — the first of its kind in a district attorney’s office in New York City —will be to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes and to educate the public about how to prevent and detect abuse of animals.

In creating the unit, Brown also announced he has appointed veteran Queens prosecutor Nicoletta Caferri as its first chief. Caferri has been with the Queens DA’s office since 1992.

Brown said the Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit will work closely with the Police Department’s newly formed Animal Cruelty Investigations Squad, which assumed the ASPCA’s law enforcement function in July 2014).

The DA identified the defendant in the Chihuahua case as Carlos Hernandez, 32, of 73rd Street in Jackson Heights. Hernandez is presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging him with aggravated cruelty to animals, fourth-degree criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child,Brown said.

If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

Brown said Hernandez was inside his girlfriend’s Forest Hills residence around 4:15 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, and engaged in a verbal dispute with her. It is alleged that Hernandez grabbed the Chihuahua out of her hands and slammed the dog against the floor, causing the dog to bleed from its ears and collapse on the floor where it died minutes later. An 11-year-old girl, who was the Chihuahua’s caregiver, was allegedly present in the room and witnessed the incident, Brown said.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.