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Man arrested in Phoenix sledgehammer killing of injured dog

PHOENIX — A man who twice struck an injured dog with a sledgehammer as children screamed at him to not kill the animal told investigators later it was a mercy killing, police said Thursday.

The dog suffered a leg injury the evening of April 16 when it was hit by one or maybe two cars and then made its way to the front porch of the home of its owners, who weren’t home at the time, police said.

The dog was on the porch when 49-year-old Ivan Lawrence brought the 3-foot-long sledgehammer from his nearby home and killed the dog by twice striking it in the head, police said.

A witness reported that two neighborhood children “were screaming and yelling at the subject to stop,” police said in a probable cause statement.

Somebody called police and responding officers wrote a report. Detectives later investigated, resulting in Lawrence’s arrest

Lawrence told investigators he euthanized the dog because it was in pain, the statement said. “The suspect admitted he was reckless in killing the dog in this manner and with children present to witness it.”

Jessie Garcia said he and his family returned home to find their dog, a pit bull named Beau, lying on their home’s front porch amid blood.

Garcia told KPNX-TV ( ) that he objected to the family’s dog being killed, was confused when police didn’t make an immediate arrest but was relieved when they later did.

The officers who initially responded didn’t think a law was broken, but animal-cruelty detectives concluded otherwise, said Sgt. Vince Lewis, a Police Department spokesman. “Once experts took a second look they determined there was probable cause to arrest the suspect.”

Resident Jessica Headley told KNXV-TV ( ) she was driving in the area when she saw the injured dog and stopped to help.

Headley said she planned to take the dog to a veterinarian and pleaded with the neighbor with the sledgehammer to leave the dog alone.

The last thing the dog saw, Headley said, was “some stranger with a sledgehammer, that’s horrible.”

Lawrence remained jailed Thursday. He didn’t have an attorney during an initial court appearance.

A woman believed to be associated with Lawrence did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During his brief court appearance, a judge set bail conditions that included not having any contact with animals.

“I have pets,” Lawrence said without elaboration as he asked whether the condition applied “from this point on.”

Yes, replied Commissioner Paula Williams. Unless another judge decides to change the condition, “you may not have any animals under any circumstances.”