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July 22, 2022

Pennsylvania state trooper charged with animal cruelty for horse's death in Chester County

Cpl. Michael Perillo used his patrol car to strike the escaped animal multiple times, investigators said

Investigations Animal Cruelty
Horse Trooper Animal Cruelty Pennsylvania State Police/Facebook.

Pennsylavnia State Police Corporal Michael Perillo was charged Friday with animal cruelty in connection with the death of a horse that got loose on a highway in Chester County last December.

A Pennsylvania state trooper is facing animal cruelty charges for allegedly ramming his car into a horse that had been reported loose on a highway in Lower Oxford Township last December. The horse was euthanized by a second trooper, who shot the injured animal.

Cpl. Michael Perillo, based out of Troop J in Avondale, was charged Friday with felony and misdemeanor counts of aggravated animal cruelty, including torture and causing significant bodily injury to the horse, according to court records. 

The incident happened just before midnight on Dec. 28, when police received a report of a horse in the area of U.S. Route 1 and State Road 10. The horse got had gotten free from an Amish farm and was near the Lancaster County line.

Before the two troopers responded to the scene, the horse already had been struck by another motorist. It was on the shoulder of Route 1 when the troopers arrived, but it's unclear how badly the animal was injured at that time.

The events that culminated in the animal being shot on the highway have been under investigation since March. Both Perillo and the second state trooper, who has not been identified, were placed on restricted duty status at the time.

A criminal complaint filed by the state police's internal affairs division alleges that Perillo drove his patrol car into the horse multiple times, pinning the animal to the pavement. The second trooper then euthanized the horse, authorities said.

Troopers are permitted to use a firearm to kill a dangerous animal in self-defense, to defend another person or to end the suffering of an injured or sick animal if other means of doing so are not available. Troopers are required to document all actions taken in appropriate reports.

State police declined to say Friday whether the second trooper remains under investigation for possible animal cruelty charges or administrative discipline.

Perillo, who enlisted with state police in 2006, has been suspended without pay pending the resolution of the case. He was arraigned Friday at the Chester County Justice Center and bail was set at $50,000 unsecured.