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Charges dropped against 1 officer in dog killing

Charges against one officer in killing of dog in Brewer's Hill last year have been dropped

City prosecutors have dropped all charges against one of the two Baltimore police officers accused of slitting the throat of a dog that had gotten loose in Southeast Baltimore last summer, court records show.

Officer Thomas Schmidt had been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty, with investigators saying he held the dog, a Shar-Pei named Nala, down while its throat was cut. Records show all charges against Schmidt were dropped Jan. 8.

The state's attorney's office said the charges were dropped "due to developments in the ongoing investigation of this case" but declined to elaborate. Charges against Jeffrey Bolger, the officer accused of cutting the dog, remain, and a trial is scheduled for March.

Schmidt's attorneys, Paula Xinis and Mary Koch, said Schmidt used a dog pole to control Nala until an animal control officer could arrive, and never did anything wrong.

"Officer Schmidt followed police protocol, and we're very satisfied with the state's review of the case," Xinis said.

Schmidt, a 24-year veteran of the department, will not return to the job — he retired in September, the Police Department said.

Bolger's attorneys have enlisted the state's top medical examiner, David R. Fowler, as an expert witness who is expected to testify that the dog was already dead when the cutting occurred.

The attorneys say Fowler determined that the dog strangled itself on the dog pole, and that witnesses will testify that it was "lifeless for approximately five minutes."

"Agent Bolger could not be certain whether the dog had died or was dying and unconscious after it was removed from the dog pole," his attorneys wrote in a motion to dismiss the charges. "Consequently, in the event that it was still alive, Agent Bolger wanted to end its suffering."

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.

One of Bolger's attorneys, Steven H. Levin, said he believed the charges dropped against Schmidt bode well for his client.

"We are pleased to see that the new state's attorney has apparently accepted Dr. Fowler's expert opinion," Levin said in an email. "We look forward to the state dismissing charges against Agent Bolger in the near future."

jfenton@baltsun.com

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