A Florida man who fatally shot a police K-9 while trying to escape arrest has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars. Jhamal Paskel, 19, was sentenced at the Duval County Circuit Court in Jacksonville, receiving five years for the dog’s death and 20 years for the kidnapping of two women at gunpoint in September 2018.
- Paskel pleaded guilty to his crimes. He previously entered a guilty plea on felony charges of killing a police dog, two counts of kidnapping, and armed carjacking, leading to the 25-year sentence as well as 10 years of additional probation following his release. The defense had sought a 15-year sentence while the prosecution wanted Paskel in prison for 35 years, so Circuit Judge Gilbert Feltel Jr. found the middle ground.
- Both Paskel and his mother had begged for leniency. According to Paskel’s mother, her son had experienced mental health issues but she admitted that was not an excuse for what he had done. However, since his arrest, he had earned his diploma and was said to be trying to get back on track. Paskel himself noted that while he was 17 at the time of the crime, he was a “man ready to take responsibility for the mistakes [he] made as a child.” He added: “I would like to offer my apologies and condolences to Officer Herrera for not only the killing of his K-9 partner Fang, but his best friend. I want to apologize to the victims for scaring them that night. And I owe my mother the biggest apology for letting her down.”
- Paskel’s crime was pretty serious. In 2018, he carjacked two women and forced one to drive while he held her at gunpoint. Eventually, the vehicle’s OnStar system allowed police to track the car as well as make its engine stop, at which point Paskel took off on foot. Paskel shot Fang and then continued running into a local woodland where he was eventually apprehended.
- The dog’s handler was devastated by his loss. As Officer Matt Herrera said, the dog wasn’t just a work partner but a part of his family. “I heard two gunshots back to back followed by a third. In between two and three, I heard Fang yelp, and soon as I came over the embankment, I kind of saw him coming to rest after falling and being shot,” Herrera recalled to News4Jax on Tuesday while he was working with a new police dog. “This animal, I spent more time with than my family. He was with me when I was with my family, but he was also with me when I was not with my family. So, it’s without a doubt, you get a humongous bond with this animal. All handlers feel this way.”