In one of the more blatant cases of a police officer escaping justice, a former Baltimore police officer has not only gotten away with publicly slitting a dog’s throat, but he’s also receiving $45,000 from the city government for his trouble.
Jeffrey G. Bolger responded to a call when a runaway 7-year-old Shar-Pei named Nala nipped the hand of a woman trying to read her tags. The dog had escaped from owner Sarah Gossard’s backyard a bit earlier.
When Bolger arrived at the scene, they successfully tethered Nala to a dog-control pole. Several witnesses heard Bolger scream, “I’m going to fucking gut this thing.”
At this point, Bolger had his partner hold the dog down while he slit its throat in front of multiple witnesses.
Bolger’s defense attorneys claimed that Bolger was euthanizing a suffering animal, describing the killing slice as “an incision.” Unmentioned was Bolger’s qualifications or evidence for making such a judgement.
Head of the Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission Katie Flory said that Nala’s uncharacteristically aggressive behavior fits the profile of “a dog that was frightened and trying to exit the situation over and over again.”
Judge Melissa M. Phinn found Bolger not guilty of animal cruelty, citing a medical examiners report that suggested that perhaps the dog had died before its throat was cut. However, this report was contested by a doctor working for the city who found that “a cut to an artery caused the dog’s death.”
Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere said that Bolger’s behavior was “outrageous and an unacceptable breach of our protocol.”
Eric Kowalczy, another spokesperson for the Baltimore police, also stressed the severity of the situation. “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.”
Upon receiving a not guilty verdict, Bolger’s attorneys insisted that he had been unjustly suspended and was entitled to ten months of paychecks from his unpaid leave. The judge agreed, and now Bolger will be getting $45,000 from the city government.
Sarah Gossard, the owner of the dog, is still in disbelief. “She was already restrained. It wasn’t necessary at all. It was just an act of cruelty. That’s what it was,” Gossard told CBS Baltimore. “I never thought in a million years the police would show up and cut my dog’s throat.”
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW