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Baltimore police suspend another officer in dog killing

Law EnforcementHomicideBaltimore Police Department

A second officer has been suspended as the Baltimore Police Department investigates a case in which a dog's throat was slit.

Officer Thomas Schmidt, a 24-year veteran assigned to the Emergency Services unit, was placed on paid administrative leave after police say he held down a Shar-Pei while a fellow officer, Jeffrey Bolger, slit the dog's throat.

Bolger, a Special Operations Section officer hired by the department in 1992, was released on his own recognizance Thursday morning after being charged the night before with aggravated animal cruelty, animal cruelty and malfeasance in office. He has been suspended without pay, police said.

Baltimore police union Vice President Gene Ryan said union officials and Bolger's attorney continue to gather information on the incident and declined to comment further. The union had no comment on Schmidt's suspension.

Internal affairs officers continued to investigate the killing of 7-year-old Nala, who got loose Saturday from her home in Canton. Baltimore police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere described the incident Wednesday as "outrageous and unacceptable." The story spread to national news outlets Thursday.

"Internal affairs is continuing the investigation into the specifics of the incident," police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk said. Other officers who were at the scene are being questioned about their involvement, police have said, and internal investigators are trying to determine why police commanders only learned of the dog's death Monday, two days after it occurred.

Sarah Gossard, who lives in the 500 block of Decker Ave. in Canton, said she let her dog out in her backyard Saturday morning, and Nala slipped out through a gate she didn't know had been left open. The dog wandered into nearby Brewers Hill, where police said a woman tried to stop the lost dog and find its home when the Shar-Pei bit her hand, leaving a superficial wound. The woman called police to help capture the dog, and officers from the Southeastern District responded and helped corral the dog in an empty lot in the 900 block of Grundy St.

They summoned officers of the Emergency Services unit, who handle many tasks including reboarding vacant homes, barricade scene assessments and delivering crime-scene lighting. The unit also handles some dangerous-animal calls and carries dog-control poles.

According to charging documents filed in court in Bolger's case, Bolger, 49, and Schmidt responded. As Bolger got out of the police truck, a witness overheard him say, "I'm going to [expletive] gut this thing," the police report said.

Schmidt and Bolger struggled to get the dog under control, and Palmere said they had the dog restrained, tethered to the dog-control pole. Witnesses told police Schmidt held the dog on the ground while they saw Bolger slit its throat.

Police said Thursday that the knife was not issued by the department but didn't elaborate on its length or purpose. Officers often carry knives for various on-the-job tasks, police have said.

jgeorge@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justingeorge

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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