Rantoul man ordered to write apology to police dog, officer he threatened

Rantoul man ordered to write apology to police dog, officer he threatened

URBANA — A Rantoul man who admitted he threatened to hurt a police dog has been ordered to write the dog and his handler a letter of apology.

Benjamin Mason, 21, of the 1500 block of Hobson Drive also has to pay a $500 fine and perform 120 hours of public service during his two years of probation.

He pleaded guilty Friday before Judge Heidi Ladd to teasing a police dog, a Class A misdemeanor.

Assistant State's Attorney Matt Banach said Mason was present at a Jan. 20 candlelight vigil in Rantoul for murder victim Fate Young, killed two days earlier. Rantoul police were monitoring the crowd of about 100 who had gathered near Mr. Young's apartment on Harmon Drive.

Mason had a Champagne bottle that he shook, spraying the contents in the direction of Wyatt, the canine partner of Officer Jerry King.

After spraying the Champagne, Mason threw the bottle in the direction of Wyatt and King. The bottle did not hit either but broke near Wyatt's feet.

Banach said Mason also threatened another officer who was present.

In the sentence crafted by Banach — and agreed to by Mason — he will have to complete at least 60 of his public-service hours working with animals.

Banach said Mason had a prior conviction for domestic battery.

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