By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun
8:23 PM EDT, June 27, 2014
A second Baltimore police officer has been charged in the death of a dog whose throat was allegedly slit by another officer, but the city police union says both officers didn't have the tools they needed to do their job and shouldn't be charged.
Thomas Schmidt, a 24-year veteran of the department, has been suspended without pay, department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Connolly said. He had been on paid administrative leave since last week.
Police say Schmidt held down Nala, a 7-year-old Shar-Pei, while Officer Jeffrey Bolger slit the dog's throat June 14.
According to online court records, Schmidt was charged Thursday with aggravated animal cruelty, animal cruelty, and malfeasance in office. He posted $75,000 bond and was released. A trial is scheduled for July 28.
Bolger faces the same charges.
Robert F. Cherry, president of the city's chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said both officers had been called for a report of an aggressive dog and were doing their job. They did not have lethal tranquilizers at their disposal, and also did not want to open fire using a department pistol or shotgun.
The department has said it stopped ordering lethal darts and is in the process of looking for more humane ways to immobilize dangerous animals.
"They did not have the tools that were needed to humanely put an animal down," Cherry said. He said officers who have shot dogs in similar situations were not criminally charged. "All of a sudden a knife is used, and they're charged with a felony."
Nala had reportedly gotten loose from her Canton home and gone to Brewers Hill, where she bit the hand of a woman who was trying to help her, leaving a superficial wound. The dog had been restrained with a dog pole when Bolger allegedly slit her throat.
According to charging documents, witnesses told investigators that Bolger said, "I'm going to [expletive] gut this thing" when he arrived at the scene with Schmidt. Police say the two had difficulty restraining the dog.
After Schmidt gained control of Nala with a dog pole, witnesses saw him hold Nala to the ground while Bolger cut the animal's throat, the documents say.
The case has garnered national attention.
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun