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Tag: officer

Baltimore police officer who cut dog’s throat is found not guilty of all charges


There was no justice for Nala in Baltimore this week.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Thursday acquitted a former city police officer charged with animal cruelty, misconduct and mutilating an animal after he slit the seven-year-old Shar-Pei’s throat in the summer of 2014.

Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death.

That despite the fact he pulled out a knife and drew it across the throat of a dog already restrained by a catchpole — after uttering, at least according to one witness, “I’m going to gut this thing.”

Phinn noted that the verdict might not be popular, but said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of public safety and putting the dog out of it’s misery.

She also noted that Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler testified that the dog likely was dead before her throat was cut.

Phinn said that Bolger would not have the expertise to know the dog was already dead when he slit its throat.

Bolger’s attorneys — attempting to cover all the bases — had argued both that the dog was already dead and that Bolger was attempting to euthanize the dog in the most humane way possible.

“Rather than have a dog suffer needlessly, a dog that was going to be tested for rabies, he decided to make an incision,” said Bolger’s attorney, Steven H. Levin, said as he left the courthouse with his client on Thursday.

An incision???

bolgerApparently, at least according to the defense arguments the judge bought, Bolger — or should we call him Dr. Bolger — decided to euthanize an already subdued dog he wasn’t sure was dead or alive out of the goodness of his heart with his trusty pocket knife.

Contrary to the state medical examiner’s findings, a necropsy performed by a doctor working for the city’s animal control determined a cut artery led to the dog’s death.

The state medical examiner said those findings were faulty, and while some witnesses said they heard the dog whimper and that her eyes remained opened before Bolger cut her, the medical examiner testified that both signs are not uncommon even after death.

The judge noted that, while one witness said they heard Bolger say, “I’m going to gut this thing,” another person within earshot did not recall him use the phrase.

Prosecutor Paul O’Connor had argued the Bolger had no reason to slit the dog’s throat, saying she was already restrained when Bolger cut her.

Bolger’s attorneys argued that the officer did not have proper equipment to sedate the dog, that the dog choked “itself” to death while on the pole, and that Bolger used the knife to protect the public.

Both that pole and Nala’s collar “disappeared” long before the trial started.

Nala escaped from her yard last year and was spotted roaming the streets of a Highlandtown neighborhood. Police were called after she bit a pregnant woman who was trying to rescue her from traffic.

Bolger had no comment to reporters at the trial’s conclusion, other than to thank his attorneys. The dog’s owner, Sarah Gossard, 30, left the courtroom in tears.

In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she was “heartbroken,” by the judge’s verdict.

“I do believe that just because this judge didn’t find the evidence sufficient, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill her. I don’t feel that justice was served but I can only hope that Nala’s death has raised animal cruelty awareness.”

After the trial, Bolger’s attorneys talked about their client’s suffering — that’s right, Bolger’s suffering.

Levin said the case drew nationally publicity, negatively affected his client’s life and forced him to retire early from the police department and suffered after having been suspended without pay.

State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said her office was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “It will not deter us from pursuing and prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against animals,” she said.

Katie Flory, who heads the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission and is director of Community Affairs for the Maryland SPCA, said she was also disappointed by the verdict.

“We are very sad and frustrated to hear that a guilty verdict was not given today. It shows us that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the egregious acts to animals in our city,” she told the Baltimore Sun.

“We are very sad for Sarah’s family,” Flory added. “It’s not going to bring Nala back and we hoped for justice for Nala, and for her family.”

You’d almost think dog lives don’t matter

No dog has ever killed a police officer in the line of duty.

And yet police officers, in the line of duty, shoot about 10,000 dogs a year in America, according to Department of Justice estimates.

One of the latest fatalities in the epidemic was Duchess, shot down Tuesday by an officer who acted quickly, if not wisely.

Within the space of about two seconds, a Florida City police officer determined the dog running out a front door he had knocked on was a threat and shot him three times.

The 40-pound pit bull mix died almost instantly as a surveillance camera recorded the incident.

Gillian Palacios said her two-year-old dog ran out of the front door when she started to open it.

The officer had knocked on the door to let the family know their car door was open.

“Before I could even do anything, the officer had his gun out and shot her three times in the head,” she told WPLG.

“She was curious. She wasn’t barking (and) she wasn’t growling,” Palacios said. “There was no reason for him to think she was aggressive in any way.”

“There were a million things he could have done other that shoot her three times in the head,” she added.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Florida City police spokesman Ken Armenteros defended the officer’s actions.

“We don’t have the luxury of hindsight,” Armenteros said. “We have to use the information that is given to us in a split second. So, the officer has to make that decision with the information that he has available.”

What about the luxury of foresight, though, we’d ask?

What about a mandatory program that trains all of a police force’s officers in canine behavior, how to interpret it, how to deal with it and how to make their split second decisions a little more wisely, a little less rashly?

All state legislatures should require such training, all police forces should get it in place. Only then will the “shoot first” mentality, and the thinking that dog lives don’t matter, begin to subside.

(Tomorrow: A look at a new documentary that explores the epidemic, “Of Dogs and Men.”)

Brad Pitt dies after being left in hot truck

Brad-PittA basset hound-bulldog mix named Brad Pitt died of heat-related causes after a Georgia animal control officer picked him up and left him in his truck all day, police say.

To make matters worse, the officer claimed the dog had been been hit by a car and was dead when he found him.

The atrocious behavior and blatant lie likely would have never come to light if not for a family’s persistent efforts to find out the truth about their dog, who they named after the movie star.

Brad Pitt ran away from his home in Kennesaw in July, and the family launched an extensive search, driving around the area, posting flyers and reporting the dog missing to Cobb County Animal Control.

Animal Control employees told them repeatedly that no dog matching Brad Pitt’s description had been there.

Then a neighbor called the family and told them he had seen Brad Pitt being loaded into a Cobb County Animal Control van.

Brad Pitt’s owner, Holly Roth, called Animal Control again, and learned the dog had been found dead — at least according to the officer who picked him up, Matthew Cory Dodson. Dodson had told his supervisors the dog had been hit by a car and was dead when he found him.

Roth, doubtful of the account, continued looking for the truth.

Police investigators questioned Dodson, and he confessed to what happened, according to his arrest warrant.

dodsonDodson told police he put the dog in a compartment of his county truck around 9:40 a.m. July 18 after picking him up in the Kennesaw area. He finished his work day without bringing the dog back to the shelter.

“Failing to do so in a timely manner resulted in said dog’s death, likely from a heat related illness,” the arrest warrant states.

Dodson was charged with cruelty to animals and obstruction, both misdemeanors.

He was arrested Thursday afternoon, but released from jail on his own recognizance about an hour later. A Cobb County police spokesman said Dodson has resigned from his position.

Holly Roth said the 17-month-old basset hound and English bulldog mix had been a gift for her daughter after her elementary school graduation.

“I’m still so sick to my stomach about it,” she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He would’ve gotten away with it if I hadn’t been prying.”

Abandoned dog was living in a knothole

booEver have one of those days when it seems like humanity isn’t treating you with the proper respect — the kind that makes you just want to crawl into a hole and hide?

Apparently that was the case with Boo, a Chihuahua mix who was spotted a couple of weeks ago in a rural area in Sonoma County, California, living inside a hole in a large tree.

A call to Sonoma County Animal Control led Shirley Zindler and other officers to the spot.

It was an area, they say, where people commonly abandon dogs.

It took a few hours, but the small dog was finally coaxed out of the knothole.

The officers named her Boo — after  the To Kill A Mockingbird character, Boo Radley,  who left gifts for children in an oak tree’s knothole.

boo1aBoo Dogley, as she is now known, was dirty and underweight when she was found. Officers estimated she was about one year old and had been living in the tree at least a week.

Possibly, she picked the hiding place because she was about to deliver a litter of pups. Unfortunately, none survived.

Zindler says Boo is skittish around people and was likely mistreated.

“She thinks the world’s out to get her,” Zindler, who is also the author of The Secret Life of Dog Catchers, told The Huffington Post.

Zindler is caring for Boo now, while seeking a “very, very patient person” to give her a forever home.

boo2Boo’s recovery is being documented on Zindler’s Facebook page,The Secret Life of Dog Catchers.

“She’ll stay with me until the right home is found,” said Zindler, noting it’s not the first time she has taken an unwanted dog home. She has four others.

“I take them home and fix them up so they can find a forever home.”

(Photos by Shirley Zindler)


Port Authority cop helps save choking dog

jullusA Port Authority police officer may have saved a choking dog’s life when he invited the dog’s owners into his patrol car for a ride to a veterinary clinic.

Julius, a 10-year-old Maltese, was chewing on a treat when he began to choke inside of his Jersey City home on Easter Sunday.

His owners, Michael and Lindsay Torres, after unsuccessfully trying to dislodge the treat, borrowed their building concierge’s car to rush to Manhattan in hopes of finding a vet’s office that might be open on the holiday.

But traffic on the New Jersey side of the Holland Tunnel was barely moving, and Julius’ tongue was turning blue. As their car crept toward the toll booth they told Port Authority police officer Thomas Feuker about their plight.

“I really need your help. He’s choking. We need to go to an animal hospital,” Lindsay Torres says she told the officer.

Feuker tried to clear the dog’s airway. Unable to do that, he let the couple and their dog into his car and drove them seven miles to an emergency veterinary clinic.

“It definitely made it faster. He knew the easiest way to go and they were actually blocking off some roads (on the route),” she told the New York Daily News. A motorcycle cop from Rutherford, N.J., also joined the emergency motorcade.

A vet was able to clear the treat from the dog’s esophagus, and Julius is back home.

“He’s doing great. He’s eating, he’s drinking, he’s really looking good,” Lindsay Torres said Monday.

She said she was grateful for the officer’s assistance.

“Without him, I don’t know if Julius would be here.”

(Photo: Provided by Lindsay Torres)

Baltimore cop who slit dog’s throat was being heroic, his attorneys say


Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer who slit the throat of a sharpei on a city street in June tried to put a new spin on his actions in court last week, entering a not guilty plea and suggesting Officer Jeffrey Bolger was heroically trying to save the unborn child of the pregnant woman the dog had bitten.

Fortunately, the judge didn’t immediately buy it, and declined a request from defense lawyers to dismiss the animal cruelty charges filed against Bolger.

The pregnant woman, meanwhile, is calling bullshit.

“Don’t try and make yourself a hero when you made a grave mistake,” she said in a a radio interview last week, after Bolger’s initial court appearance. “Try and say I’m sorry.”

In court on Thursday, lawyers for the 22-year veteran of the police force said Bolger was “legally authorized” to kill the dog, named Nala, and that he was acting to protect the unborn child of a woman the dog had bitten.

He entered a not guilty plea to two counts of animal mutilation, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office. Both Bolger, 49, and a second officer, who held Nala while Bolger slit her throat, have been suspended.

His attorney’s reasoning went like this: Had the dog escaped from police, the woman would have had to undergo a series of rabies shots, putting her baby at risk. Due to that, and the dangers the attorney said the dog posed to citizens nearby, Bolger made the decision to “euthanize” Nala in the safest manner possible.

“Bolger considered using his firearm, but he determined that there was too much danger of a ricochet bullet injuring bystanders,” his lawyers said. “Instead, he used his knife in a fashion intended to cause the dog the least amount of pain and place the public in the least amount of danger.”

What’s underplayed in attorney’s brief is that, when that decision was made, the dog had already been subdued with a catch pole.

The attorneys said Bolger and other officers struggled with the dog for more than an hour, the Baltimore Sun reported.

And they said Bolger didn’t say “I’m going to gut this (expletive) thing,” as some witnesses reported. Instead, they submit, he said he was going to have to “cut” the dog because of the lack of other available options.

Among those who found the attorney’s statements ludicrous was Sandy Fleischer, the pregnant woman who was trying to help the dog and keep police from harming her. She spoke out after the incident — and she did so again after Bolger’s hearing.

“To say that you were helping me and trying to save my life? I was there to help the dog,” Sandy Fleischer said. “I can’t believe they are using me for the defense.”

In an interview Thursday on WBAL Radio’s C4 Show, Fleischer said she was upset that the fact she was pregnant — something she confided only to the paramedic treating her — had made its way to police and into the courtroom.

Fleischer was nipped by the dog as she tried to get a look at her collar, so she could get in touch with the dog’s owner.

When she first recounted the incident on the radio show, months ago, Fleischer said the officers who first arrived on the scene used sticks to try and corral the dog, which only served to intensify the situation. She said officers calling the dog a pit bull.

She said police had her ushered to the ambulance “because they didn’t want me seeing the dog being killed.”

A second officer, Thomas Schmidt, 53, is accused of holding the dog down while Bolger cut her throat and is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

The judge, while declining to immediately grant the request for a dismissal requested by Bolger’s attorneys, didn’t rule out further arguments and consideration of the motion.

Bolger’s trial date is scheduled for Nov. 7.

(Photo: Ian Duncan / Baltimore Sun)

Idaho officer violated policy when he shot dog through van window, review says

arfee2Two investigations have concluded that an Idaho police officer used unnecessary force when he shot a dog who lunged at him as he snuck up to a van’s partially open window.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said an internal review found that the shooting of Arfee by officer Dave Kelly — the bullet went through the window glass —was unjustified.

A separate Use of Deadly Force Review Board unanimously concluded that Kelley’s actions “were in violation of the department policies reviewed.”

Officer Kelly remains on duty, though, and city officials aren’t saying what disciplinary action, if any, he might face, according to the  Associated Press

“An argument can be made that Officer Kelley’s decision to shoot was reasonable when the dog lunged through the partially open window mere inches away from his face and throat,” White said. “However, given the totality of the circumstances, the use-of-force reviews found Officer Kelley’s use of force to be out of policy in this incident.”

The department initially reported that an officer shot and killed a “vicious pit bull” that lunged at him from inside a van on July 9 — but later corrected the breed. Arfee was a lab mix. Kelly was not identified by name by the department until last week.

The dog’s owner, Craig Jones, had left Arfee parked in the shade with the windows partly open while he went to a coffee shop.

City Attorney Mike Gridley declined to comment on whether any disciplinary action would be taken against Kelley, who has 17 years of law enforcement experience, the last seven with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department.

Officer Kelley, in an incident report filed immediately after the incident, said the van was being checked due previous reports in the area of a person in a similar van trying to entice children. He said he drew his weapon as he approached the driver’s side door of the van.

“I was at the driver’s side door/window, when suddenly I saw a black dog’s head and neck lunge through the open window,” Kelley wrote. “The dog was aggressively barking and growling, and its mouth was within inches of my face. I had the split second thought that this dog is going to bite me, and bite me immediately.”

The use-of-force investigation said that, even if Arfee’s head was outside the window, Kelley’s response — firing a bullet, that went through the window glass — was not reasonable.

“Officer Kelley, a seasoned officer of over 15 years of experience, was in an open parking lot with an open business, in the middle of the day, with citizens around and (another) officer … on the other side of the van. This was a case where Officer Kelley did not have anything behind him to prevent him from gaining distance,”  police Lt. Robert Turner wrote in the report.

Police Chief White said the shooting has shaken the community’s confidence in the police department, but added, “… The relationship between our community and our department will ultimately be strengthened as a direct result of how we respond to the situation and how we improve our agency to prevent similar situations from occurring.”

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The word is also likely to be solved, but their labour was vain, vain.