20-year-old Dajon Pittman, of Hurlock, Maryland, was recently arrested by Ocean City Police after he allegedly "smacked" an OC police horse.Tucker is an Ocean City police horse. He doesn't ask for a lot. All he wants is a shelter to sleep in, enough food to eat, opportunities to stretch his legs, and for idiots not to slap him for no reason. One Saturday in early October, however, someone slapped Tucker. Mounted Ocean City police were on hand late one night to disperse a crowd of about 200 people who had gathered outside a fast-food restaurant on 32nd Street. While it is uncommon to see mounted police in Ocean City, especially after the peak season ends, mounted officers are still considered one of the most effective ways of dispersing crowds. A crowd of people had gathered in the fast-food parking lot to watch vehicles that were traveling along Coastal Highway, likely those that were participating in the H2oi event highlighting Audi and Volkswagen vehicles. Given that they were not frequenting the fast-food restaurant itself, the management requested that police help disperse the crowd from the parking lot. As the mounted police began to converge on the scene, one officer observed a man, later identified as Dajon Pittman, raise his arm and aggressively smack Tucker on one of his rear legs. One Ocean City police officer wrote in his report that he heard a smack and turned to see Pittman with his open palm. The officer also wrote in the report that he believed it was clear Pittman slapped the police horse in order to distract the officer and animal from moving on the crowd. If that was truly the plan, it didn't work. The crowd was dispersed and Dajon Pittman was arrested and then charged with "interfering with a police animal." Yes, we checked, that is a crime.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully torment, beat, kick, strike, injure or otherwise mistreat any animal owned by the Ocean City Police Department or willfully interfere with the lawful performance of such animal in a police activity.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to willfully touch any such animal owned by the Ocean City Police Department, in any manner, after being directed not to do so by a police officer.
Because the code technically allows for people to touch police animals as long as they are not instructed by an officer not to, the case against Pittman will require prosecutors to prove that he struck Tucker with the intent of mistreating him or interfering with the police animal's responsibilities.
All of this begs the question though: what kind of person thinks they can smack a police horse and get away with it? Obviously, Dajon Pittman is innocent until proven guilty and it is certainly possible that someone could innocently touch a horse and create a smacking sound without any intended malice.
What is amazing is that this isn't the only instance of a police horse being stuck that has made the headlines in recent months. Back in August, a man was arrested after he tried to punch a Boston Police horse in its face. In June, a Pennsylvania woman was arrested after allegedly stabbing a police horse with a nail-studded flag pole.