Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Officer accused of killing dog asks Bernstein to reconsider charges

Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer charged with slitting a dog’s throat have asked State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein to reconsider his decision to prosecute the case.

Jeffrey Bolger pleaded not guilty last week and is scheduled to go to trial in November in Baltimore City Circuit Court. Bolger’s lawyers also filed a motion to dismiss the case last week, saying he killed the 7-year-old Shar-Pei to ensure the safety of a pregnant woman the dog had bitten.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Bernstein, Bolger’s lawyers say the officer’s actions have been “unfairly characterized in the media as having been undertaken for sport or pleasure.”

“Quite to the contrary, this case involves a grim task carried out dutifully by an officer who was protecting a member of the public as he is sworn to do,” the letter states.

Should prosecutors move forward with the case, the letter asks Bernstein’s office to present the case to a grand jury. In their motion to dismiss, Bolger’s lawyers argued a preliminary hearing was never held to establish probable cause. Prosecutors filed a criminal information in Baltimore City Circuit Court; the defense argues that can only be done without a preliminary hearing in a felony case if the Maryland District Court would not have jurisdiction over the felony.

Tony Savage, a spokesman for Bernstein, said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on a pending case.

In the motion to dismiss, Bolger’s lawyers argued he was authorized to euthanize the under the city health code because the dog had caused a puncture wound and Animal Control had not arrived on the scene despite numerous requests.

Had the dog escaped, the woman would have had to undergo rabies testing, which Bolger understood could harm her unborn child, the motion states.

The dog, named Nala, “appeared to be malnourished and foaming at the mouth” and fought the restraint of a dog pole for more than an hour during the June incident, the motion states.

The motion claimed Bolger used a knife to “quickly euthanize the dog,” relying on his experience as a commercial fisherman. The letter to Bernstein further describes Bolger as making “a surgical incision that severed the stray dog’s carotid artery.”

Bolger, 49, has been a city officer since 1992 but has been suspended pending the outcome of the court proceedings. He was charged with two counts of mutilating an animal, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office.

Officer Thomas Schmidt, who responded to the dog-bite call with Bolger, faces the same charges as Bolger. His arraignment is scheduled for Monday, according to court records.

Bolger is represented by lawyers with Levin & Curlett LLC in Baltimore. The law firm earlier this year successfully represented a New Jersey detective accused of first-degree murder stemming from an Annapolis-area roadside altercation. The jury acquitted the detective.

Levin & Curlett later accused prosecutors of misconduct, a claim the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s office has vehemently denied.

About Danny Jacobs

Danny Jacobs is the legal editor at The Daily Record. He previously covered trial courts at the state and local levels and served as web editor.