A Philadelphia police officer allegedly burst into his girlfriend's brother's Brooklyn apartment early Thursday morning and put him in a chokehold, demanding the brother hand over a very charming 11-month-old Maltese puppy—or else. The pet-owner, 25-year-old Rafael Santos, says 30-year-old Angel Lopez attacked him while he slept, threatening false arrest if he refused to surrender the pooch.
"He came in full uniform, full gear, right after work," Santos told the NY Daily News. "He slammed open my door. Right away, you could see he was in a hostile state ... He was like, 'I'll arrest you for hitting a cop.' I was like, 'Bro you're putting your hands on me, you came into my home, you're the one looking for an altercation.'"
Santos explained that he adopted his surprisingly contentious pup, Mia, as a companion for his other Maltese puppy of the same age (Adina). His sister—who goes back and forth between Bushwick, where Santos lives, and Philadelphia—was reportedly so jazzed about the new addition that she offered to pay Santos $200 for the privilege of looking after his dog. He told the Daily News that she and Lopez liked the idea of buying a puppy together because they found it "romantic," but didn't want to take on the full responsibility. According to Santos, though, his sister grew attached about a week and a half into her chaperone duties, and wanted to take Mia back to Philadelphia.
"All of a sudden everybody wanted the puppy," Santos told the Daily News. He reminded his sister that Mia was supposed to keep Adina company, he continued, and that he hadn't agreed to sell her his dog, only to let her watch it.
That "no" does not seem to have sat well with Santos's sister: According to Santos, the pair came barreling into his Bushwick apartment at 5:30 a.m. on April 25th, Lopez shouting, "Where is the dog? I want the dog!" He allegedly came fully outfitted with handcuffs, his gun, the full array of his law enforcement affects. Santos says he tried to diffuse the situation, but Lopez aggressively restrained him, while his sister wrenched the dog from his grip and ran off with it.
"My whole shirt was ripped up. He was grabbing me. They treated me like an animal," Santos told the News. "I had a bruise above my right eye where I got hit in the face."
According to the NYPD, Lopez was arrested in Bushwick on Friday, around 8:45 p.m. He faces robbery charges. 24-year-old Kenya Santos was also arrested on robbery charges in connection with the incident, the spokesperson said.
Todd Spodek, Lopez's New York-based attorney, put a different spin on the alleged dog-napping. Spodek said in a statement that Rafael Santos "a history of fabricating stories against Mr. Lopez and his family." Two people who witnessed the alleged assault, which Santos claimed happened before dawn and in the privacy of his own home, confirmed that Lopez "acted appropriately at all times," Spodek said, adding that he "anticipate[s] Mr. Lopez being permitted to return to the force shortly."
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Lopez has been placed on 30-day leave with intent to dismiss, adding: "It's so very unfortunate that someone will give up a good job for something that's so ridiculous."
Meanwhile, Santos told the Daily News that Mia is still missing: "I want my puppy back—that's my biggest concern."