- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) - Attorneys for a Baltimore police officer accused of cutting a dog’s throat are asking a judge to dismiss the animal cruelty charge against him.

Officer Jeffrey Bolger had tried for an hour to restrain the dog, a Shar Pei named Nala, after she ran away from her owner and reportedly bit a pregnant woman outside of a bar in Baltimore, Bolger’s attorneys wrote in a motion to dismiss filed Thursday. The lawyers argue that because the dog attacked a person and the officer was unable to subdue the animal, Bolger was authorized to “euthanize” her.

Bolger, 49, has been suspended without pay.

The lawyers also say prosecutors failed to establish probable cause for the charges against Bolger because no preliminary hearing was held. They also argue that Baltimore Police pursued charges against Bolger to protect “senior staff,” who lawyers say failed to properly train Bolger and did not outfit him and his partner with the equipment necessary to handle the situation. The motion states that the officers did not have a dog carrier or any sedatives on hand.

Nala had been wearing a dog collar with a tag when the officers captured her. Bolger’s attorneys say Bolger cut the collar off the dog and his partner tried to contact Nala’s owner, Sarah Gossard, but the number on the tag was out of service.

In the filing, attorneys recount Bolger’s career as a first responder, and portray him as a “dog owner and dog lover” who killed the dog because he was concerned that she might harm bystanders. They say he chose to cut her throat because using a service weapon near a crowd posed too big a risk.

But charging documents paint a different portrait. Prosecutors say witnesses told investigators that after Bolger and his partner, Thomas Schmidt, were called to the scene in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood on June 14, Schmidt held the dog down while Bolger cut its throat. According to court documents, witnesses recalled hearing Bolger say that he was going to “gut” the dog. Schmidt, 53, has also been suspended with pay.

Bolger’s trial is set for Nov. 7.

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