A former Baltimore City police officer acquitted of animal cruelty charges after he slit the throat of a runaway dog was awarded $45,000 in back pay from the city.
On Wednesday, the Board of Estimates approved a deal in which Jeffrey Bolger will receive the money for the work he missed while he was suspended without pay from June 19, 2014 through March 7, 2015.
Bolger was found not guilty of animal cruelty charges last November.
The dog's owner, Sarah Gossard, said she's devastated Nala, a 7-year-old Shar Pei, didn't get justice, but she's making sure her legacy lives on.
It was back in June 2014 when Nala wandered out of her fenced in backyard. Gossard said she went looking for her dog when she discovered the latch to the back gate was open, but didn’t expect to hear that her dog had died.
“You kind of expect maybe she got run over by a car that was my biggest fear but not that someone would have killed her with a knife,” Gossard said.
Bolger, along with another officer, had been called in after Nala bit another person. They attempted to restrain the dog and that’s when Bolger stopped her by slitting her throat.
“He killed my dog,” Gossard said.
Bolger was charged with two counts of mutilating an animal, animal cruelty and misconduct in office. He was cleared of all charges. His lawyer, Steven Levin, said his actions were within the law and in a statement he said, in part:
“Mr. Bolger was unnecessarily charged and suspended from the Baltimore Police Department. The evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Bolger acted appropriately, and the trial judge spent one hour summarizing the evidence and explaining her ruling from the bench.”
He added that because Bolger was suspended without pay, he was forced to retire in order to support his family.
“Had Ms. Mosby actually considered the evidence when we presented it to her supervising state's attorneys, instead of prosecuting an obviously innocent man, the police department would still have the benefit of the services of an outstanding officer with over 22 years of unblemished dedication to our community. … This was a loss to our city,” the statement read.
Gossard was unhappy with the not guilty verdict, but instead of dwelling on the decision, she said she’s been working to help other animals.
She’s since held four fundraisers benefiting various animal rescue organizations. Her most recent one was at The Chasseur in Canton this past January.
“We raised $1,000 for BARCS [the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter], and they are actually hanging up a plaque in her memory and that'll hang over one of the kennels, so while the dogs are waiting to be adopted they'll be in her little memory kennel,” Gossard said.
According to the shelter, the kennel sign will hang right above one of their 300 kennels. The money raised has gone directly to caring for the BARCS dogs and cats, which includes medications and food for the animals.
They added that Nala’s lasting legacy will not be tragedy, but helping the homeless animals at BARCS.
“Everyone that comes in they'll see it and I'm sure if they don't know the story they'll ask about it and it'll just keep her memory alive, which is what I want,” Gossard said.