(Oct. 3, 2014) Ocean City Police charged two men Saturday night after they struck a police horse.
Eric Ryan Dudkiewicz, 23, of Norristown, Pa., and Demetrios Xanthos, 26, of North Arlington, N.J., are charged with interfering with a police animal in two unrelated incidents that occurred just over an hour apart.
Veteran equine member of the force, Benson, was the victim of both attacks and, per his training, did not return the blows. Both he and Mounted Officer Joseph Laughlin left the incident unscathed, police said.
With large crowds gathering in the midtown area during H2O International, a VW- and Audi-centric car show in the area last weekend, mounted officers and police on bikes and in patrol cars were outside the Princess Bayside on 48th Street to control crowds Saturday night.
Around 1:15 a.m., Dudkiewicz was walking south on the sidewalk to the left of Benson when he struck the horse and reached under the saddlebag.
Officer Andrew Beck was on foot and grabbed Dudkiewicz by the shirt, arresting him for hitting a police animal. Dudkiewicz appeared drunk, according to Beck’s report.
Just over an hour later, the incident nearly repeated itself. Xanthos was walking south on the horse’s left when he struck Benson and reached under the saddlebag. This time Laughlin grabbed him by the shirt and arrested him, reporting he also appeared drunk.
With more than a month’s training along the Boardwalk and other busy resort areas, the horses are adept at remaining calm during chaos, said Linsday O’Neal, Public Affairs Specialist for the OCPD.
Training involves “exposing them to all the different sights and sounds that they see so they do just what Benson did this weekend: They don’t react,” she said.
“Benson is probably our most popular horse and I think it is safe to say that he is ridden more often than the others because he is such a great, well-trained police horse,” she added.
Both Dudkiewicz and Xanthos are scheduled to face their charges Oct. 30 in Ocean City District Court.