The sheriff's deputy accused of beating his K9 partner came face-to-face with a crowd of protesters as he entered a plea in a Carlton County courtroom on Thursday.
Ramsey County Deputy Brett Arthur Berry is accused in an off-duty occurrence at the Black Bear Casino in June, when he is alleged to have picked up the dog – named "Boone" – by its collar before throwing it to the ground and beating it.
The incident was captured by security cameras.
Berry, who is charged with one count of assaulting a public safety dog and one count of animal cruelty, entered a "not guilty" plea in view of protesters and others packed into the court room, the Duluth News Tribune reports.
The paper says many were there to show their support for Boone, with a number of them gathering on the courthouse steps and hoisting signs that read "I support K9 officer Boone!"
Meanwhile, the Pioneer Press says the story has garnered global attention; Carlton County Attorney Thomas Pertler told the paper he's received concerned letters from as far away as South Africa and Australia.
According to FOX 21, Berry's pre-trial hearing is set for September 30.