RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond police officer will serve one year of a five-year prison sentence after being convicted of fatally shooting his fiancée’s dog last year in Powhatan County.
According to online court records, Richard Chinappi III pleaded guilty to a felony charge of torturing or maiming a dog or cat and making a false report to police.
Powhatan Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Cerullo told 8News that prosecutors presented evidence that Chinappi killed the dog, a beagle-hound mix, from close range with a 12-gauge shotgun last October.
In a phone interview Friday, Cerullo said Chinappi initially claimed a bear had attacked the dog inside the Powhatan County home he shared with his now-former fiancée.
When members of the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office arrived, Cerullo said Chinappi told authorities the bear had killed the dog but then changed his story to say he had shot the bear and killed the dog in the process.
A forensic of the dog’s body revealed it had been killed with a 12-gauge shotgun from “exceedingly close range” and there were no signs of damage caused by a bear, according to Cerullo.
Cerullo noted that Chinappi never changed his version of the events after that and maintained a bear was attacking the dog. The prosecution found evidence that someone had tried to clean blood in the kitchen.
Chinappi appeared in Powhatan County Circuit Court Friday where he was sentenced to five years for the felony, with four years suspended, and got a six-month suspended sentence for giving the false police report.
Chinappi was hired by the Richmond Police Department in October 2016 and a letter was sent by his attorney to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services notifying the department that he was surrendering his law enforcement certification. His attorney, Mark Bong, declined to speak about the case Friday.
“He remains on leave without pay. In light of his sentencing today, the department is very close to concluding the internal investigation and administrative process,” Richmond police said in a statement.