A former Baltimore cop who killed a family’s dog by slitting its throat will get $45,000 in back pay for the 10 months he was on unpaid leave, the Baltimore Sun is reporting.
Jeffrey M. Bolger, now 50, was suspended from his job with the Baltimore Police Department from June 2014 to March 2015, before retiring in March 2015. Bolger’s attorney claims his client was forced into early retirement.
On June 14, 2014, according to a CNN report from the time, Bolger and a fellow Baltimore cop, Officer Thomas Schmidt, responded to reports that a loose dog had bitten a woman, causing superficial wounds to her hand. That dog, it would later be revealed, was Nala, a 7-year-old Shar Pei who had escaped from her home.
— Sophie Drew Klein (@drew_sophie) June 27, 2014
Bolger and Schmidt were able to capture the dog, keeping her secured but at a safe distance by using an animal control tether pole. Then, according to witnesses, Schmidt held the dog down while Bolger slit her throat. Bolger had allegedly been heard saying he was going to “[expletive] gut this thing.”
Nala’s owner, Sarah Gossard, said she learned from a neighbor that her dog had died.
“She went missing Saturday and after looking for her all day, I found out through a neighbor that she was put down. Police never contacted me until today. Only after did I find out more details. I learned from the news that she was stabbed in the throat. I want justice.”
Police spokesman Eric Kowalczy said that Bolger’s actions that day were appalling.
“It was a complete violation of protocol. It’s not often police speak out against one of their own, but we are all truly appalled.”
Both Bolger and Schmidt were placed on unpaid administrative leave after the killing, and both were charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. Both cops would eventually retire from their jobs.
In January 2015, charges were dropped against Schmidt. A few months later, in November 2015, Bolger was acquitted.
Bolger has consistently maintained that he killed Nala to put her out of her misery, a claim backed up by medical examiner David R. Fowler.
“Agent Bolger could not be certain whether the dog had died or was dying and unconscious after it was removed from the dog pole. Consequently, in the event that it was still alive, Agent Bolger wanted to end its suffering.”
In recent years, the media has given some attention to the matter of police officers killing dogs, sometimes seemingly with little justification. In fact, according to a November 2015 Washington Post report, legally cops don’t need any reason at all to kill your dog.
In Florida, for example, an officer who has not been identified was approaching the door of a home to let the occupants know that their garage door was open. The family’s dog, Dutchess, described as “affectionate and curious,” came bounding toward the cop. The officer fired three shots into the dog’s head, then left her on the ground to bleed.
And in Buffalo, where 92 dogs were shot in a three-year span, one cop in particular was responsible for 26 of those shootings.
In fact, so prevalent is the problem of dog-killing police that even the Justice Department has referred to the matter as an “epidemic.” Several websites have sprung up to attempt to keep track of them. Police agencies generally don’t keep track of how many dogs cops kill.
Baltimore’s Board of Estimates is expected to approve Bolger’s back pay on Wednesday.
[Image via Shutterstock/Tiplyashina Evgeniya]