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Virginia police officer accused of fatally shooting fiancée's dog, fabricating story about a bear attack

A Virginia police officer has pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty in the fatal shooting of his fiancée's dog, which he tried to cover up by saying he accidentally killed the animal while trying to stop a bear attack.  

Richard R. Chinappi III also pleaded guilty to giving a false report to police about how the beagle-hound mix was killed in October at the home the couple shared, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The 27-year-old Richmond patrol officer is scheduled to be sentenced March 11.

The Powhatan Sheriff's Office received a call from the father of Chinappi's fiancée about an alleged bear attack at his daughter's home, according to a summary of evidence by Powhatan Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Cerullo.

Chinappi showed signs of intoxication when officers arrived. They discovered blood splattered in the kitchen and smeared along the floor, which appeared to be "semi-cleaned up." The officers also found bloody Clorox wipes and a bottle of bleach.

In a police interview, Chinappi initially said he was in the bathroom when he heard footsteps coming from the back deck. He said when the dog started acting crazy, he realized a bear had entered the house. Chinappi said he grabbed a shotgun and fired at the bear.

He said the bear carried the dog off. But deputies couldn't see any signs that a bear had been inside or even near the home. They did find evidence that a weapon was fired inside the house, however.

When pressed by a police supervisor who insisted his version of events didn't add up, Chinappi said one shot that he fired went through the bear and hit the dog.

Chinappi said he buried the dog in the woods near the house. The remains were sent to a veterinarian for examination, and it was determined that the animal was shot at close range. There was a "huge hole" in the dog's body, along with remnants of shotgun pellets.

Mark Bong, Chinappi's lawyer, didn't immediately return the newspaper's request for comment.

Chinappi, who was hired by Richmond police in October 2016, was placed on administrative leave after his arrest. The deputy commonwealth's attorney said Bong wrote a letter to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services saying that his client intends to voluntarily surrender his law enforcement certification.

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