A former Baltimore police officer acquitted of animal cruelty charges after he slit a dog's throat will receive $45,000 in back pay from city government.
Jeffrey G. Bolger, 50, is to get payment for about 10 months of paychecks he missed while on unpaid leave from the Police Department. The Board of Estimates is expected to approve the deal Wednesday.
In November, Baltimore Circuit Judge Melissa M. Phinn ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that Bolger was criminally responsible for the death of a 7-year-old Shar-Pei named Nala when he slit the dog's throat in June 2014. Bolger was charged with mutilating an animal, animal cruelty and misconduct in office.
Police commanders had called the killing "outrageous and unacceptable" and accused him of threatening to "[expletive] gut this thing."
But the judge said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of safety and that he believed he was putting the dog out of its misery.
Under the police union contract, Bolger is entitled to receive back wages for the period he was suspended, from June 2014 to March 2015. He was forced to retire early from the Police Department, according to his attorney.
Steven H. Levin, who represented Bolger, said his client was unnecessarily charged and suspended from the department. "The evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Bolger acted appropriately," Levin said Monday.
Nala's owner, Sarah Gossard, said her dog escaped through a gate in her Canton backyard in June 2014. The dog ended up in Brewers Hill and bit a woman on the hand, leaving a superficial wound. The woman called police to help capture the dog, and officers of the Emergency Services unit, which handles some dangerous-animal calls and carries dog-control poles, were summoned.
According to charging documents, Bolger and Officer Thomas Schmidt responded. Officers tethered Nala to the dog-control pole, police said. Witnesses told police Schmidt held down the dog while they saw Bolger slit its throat. Charges against Schmidt were later dropped.
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