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Steven H. Levin, above, is an attorney for Officer Jeffrey Bolger, who is seeking the dismissal of animal cruelty and other charges stemming from the death of a 7-year-old Shar-Pei in Baltimore last June. (The Daily Record/Andy Marso)

Officer: Dog already ‘lifeless’ when throat was slit

Defense files new motion to dismiss; says pole used on Shar-Pei is missing

Lawyers for a Baltimore police officer charged with slitting a dog’s throat say witnesses will testify the Shar-Pei was “lifeless” for approximately five minutes after strangling itself on the dog pole it was attached to, according to a court filing made Friday.

Lawyers for Jeffrey Bolger have also retained Dr. David Fowler, the state’s chief medical examiner, who will testify the lack of blood where Bolger began his incision “demonstrates the dog’s heart had already stopped beating,” according to the court filing.

The statements are part of a motion to dismiss the charges against Bolger because the dog pole and the dog’s collar and tag allegedly were not preserved as evidence. The motion also asks that prosecutors be barred from introducing as evidence a substitute dog pole.

Bolger, 49, is scheduled to be tried next Thursday in Baltimore City Circuit Court on two counts of mutilating an animal, one count of animal cruelty and one count of misconduct in office.

He pleaded not guilty in September, three months after the incident in which he cut the dog’s throat after responding to a report that a dog had bitten a pregnant woman.

In an earlier motion to dismiss, Bolgers’ lawyers argued he was authorized to euthanize the dog 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.

The September motion also says the dog, a 7-year-old named Nala, fought the restraint of a dog pole for more than an hour. Had the dog escaped, the woman would have had to undergo rabies testing, which Bolger understood could harm her unborn child, that motion said.

The motion filed Friday states that when the dog was motionless, Bolger was still not certain whether the dog “had died or was dying and unconscious.”

“Consequently, in the event it was still alive, Agent Bolger wanted to end its suffering,” the motion states.

A 44-second video shot by a resident of South Grundy Street, where the incident occurred, shows the dog lying “completely motionless” after the dog pole was removed, according to the motion, filed by Steven H. Levin, Charles N. Curlett Jr. and Sarah F. Lacey of Levin & Curlett LLC in Baltimore.

As for the missing evidence, Bolger’s lawyers argue the dog pole is “especially critical” to the defense because prosecutors must prove on the animal cruelty counts that the dog was alive and capable of sensing pain prior to Bolger killing it. The lawyers also claim the dog pole has Nala’s bite marks, scratches, blood and saliva on it, demonstrating she fought against being restrained.

Bolger cut off Nala’s collar after the dog was temporarily subdued by the dog pole in order to see the dog tag, according to the motion. The collar and tag would corroborate another officer’s testimony that the phone number she dialed from the tag was not in service. The phone number on the tag would also allow Bolger to refute potential testimony from the dog’s owner that she was not called by police, the motion states.

“The missing evidence is relevant because… it would support the conclusion that law enforcement officers acted appropriately throughout the unfortunate event,” the motion states.

Tony Savage, a spokesman for city State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein, declined to comment on Friday’s motion to dismiss because the case is ongoing.

Bolger has been a city officer since 1992 and has been suspended pending the outcome of the court proceedings.

Officer Thomas Schmidt, who responded to the dog-bite call with Bolger, faces the same charges as Bolger. Schmidt’s trial is scheduled for Dec. 22, according to online court records.

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.