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Mounted Police Horse Mortally Hurt In Hit & Run


He was called the Gentle Giant, a majestic creature that did his job with aplomb, had a horse's sense of humor and was always willing to please. Yet in the line of duty, Brigadier, an eight-year-old prize-winning Belgian cross with the Toronto mounted police unit, was violently struck in what police are calling a deliberate hit-and-run in Scarborough on Friday.

In an emotional and heartbreaking scene, the emergency task force unit was called to euthanize the animal after it suffered two broken legs and lay on the road in excruciating pain. Police say Brigadier took the brunt of the vehicle's impact and in all likelihood saved his rider's life. Constable Kevin Bradfield, who joined the mounted unit last May, was thrown onto the road and suffered broken ribs and neck and leg injuries. He was treated at Scarborough Centenary hospital and is recuperating at home. Although Sgt. Mike Puterbaugh of the mounted police unit said a horse's status as an enforcement officer is something to be determined, “when we're on the street, the horse wears a breast plate that would bear the Toronto police crest on it. That's the logo of the Toronto police service that serves the citizens of Toronto.”

The devastating loss of Brigadier has upset and angered members of the mounted unit and those who knew the animal. Toronto police purchased him in 2001. Brigadier was one of 28 horses and 40 officers that make up the city's mounted unit, originally founded in 1886 to control speeding horses and patrol outlying areas. Brigadier's remains are being sent to the University of Guelph for further investigation and to be cremated. His ashes will be returned to Toronto for a memorial service.

“I think the entire city of Toronto will be touched by the loss of this animal,” said Police Chief Bill Blair, who attended the scene Friday night. Blair said the force will be investigating the event “very aggressively.”

“It was hard to tell (Bradfield) his horse had to be put down,” said Constable Chris Heard. “The horse saved his life and he knows that.”

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