It was with much fanfare that Richard Chinappi III arrived at the Richmond Police Department in 2017, one of 18 new recruits hired to address a rise in crime as well as a high turnover rate within the department.
His photo was prominently placed at the top of a Richmond Times-Dispatch article, one of four cops holding their right hands up as they swore an oath to the Constitution after completing a 31-week program at the police academy – a ceremonial gesture that means nothing once they hit the streets as we have learned in the 15 years running this site.
But as usual, local media treated the event as a godsend to the community, describing the cadets as heroic saviors to protect the people from the evils of the world.
“You have chosen a career of service,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney told the new recruits without a hint of irony, according to the news story. “Service is what this job is all about.”
The once promising cadet was four years into the job when he killed his fiancee’s beagle, Lola, in a drunken rage, then concocting a wild story about a bear attack.
On Friday, the 27-year-old man was sentenced to five years in prison on a felony animal cruelty charge along with six months for filing a false report about how the dog was killed, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
However, Judge Paul Cella suspended 54 months of Chinappi’s sentence so he will only serve a year.
The incident took place October 19 resulting in his fiancee’s father calling the Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office about a bear attack in the home his daughter shared with the cop.
When deputies arrived, they found blood splattered throughout the kitchen and evidence that someone had tried to clean it all up with bleach. They also found a highly intoxicated Chnappi.
Chinappi told deputies that he had been in the bathroom when Lola began barking which was when he realized a bear had entered the home because he had left the door open.
He told deputies he grabbed a shotgun and fired at the bear but the bear carried the dog off into the woods.
But deputies found no evidence to support the story such as footprints or markings to suggest a bear had been in the home.
When deputies told him the story did not add up, he then said he shot the dog by accident while shooting at the bear because the shotgun blast traveled through the bear, striking the dog behind it.
He said he had buried the dog in the woods near the home but when deputies recovered the dog’s remains and had them examined by a veterinarian, they learned Lola had been shot at close range.
In January, he was charged with two additional misdemeanors for sending threatening or profane messages to his former fiancee and is scheduled to appear in court on those charges on March 30.
Chinappi remains on unpaid administrative leave but his law enforcement certification was revoked last month.