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Published: Friday, 7/13/2001

Willard officer suspended for killing dog that bit him

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WILLARD, Ohio - The police officer who shot a Willard family's dog to death because it bit him has been suspended and ordered to undergo anger management counseling.

Sgt. Charlton Summers, a 13-year veteran of the Willard force, was given three days off without pay after an informal disciplinary hearing, the police department said yesterday.

Besides the suspension and counseling, Sergeant Summers was removed from his position as the department's firearms training officer and ordered to retake firearms proficiency training.

He could appeal the discipline under the city's contract with the Fraternal Order of Police/Ohio Labor Council.

Assistant police Chief Joe Daniel investigated the July 4 incident and found that Sergeant Summers violated the department's policies on firearms use and stray dog handling.

Department officials declined to elaborate yesterday, and Sergeant Summers could not be reached for comment.

The dog, a 10-year-old Siberian husky owned by Jack and Leslie Leitz of Maplewood Street, wandered away from its yard and was found by a nearby homeowner, Ken Stine of Woodbine Street. Mr. Stine said the dog was friendly and nonthreatening, and he wanted to find its owner.

Mr. Stine's wife called police to pick up the dog, which bit Sergeant Summers on the left wrist when he tried to pull it by the collar.

According to witnesses and the police, the sergeant released the dog, then pursued it across the yard and shot it three times.

Chief Daniel and police Chief Tom King visited Jack and Leslie Leitz, the dog's owners, yesterday to inform them of the discipline against Sergeant Summers.

“I'm very grateful they recognized it was not the appropriate action to take and the officer has been disciplined,” Mrs. Leitz said. “But my husband and I are extremely concerned about the officer's behavior ... and we cannot quite come to terms with him going back on active duty with a gun issued to him.”

Mrs. Leitz said she plans to attend Willard's next city council meeting Monday night to address the issue, and she expects other residents to do so too.

“I don't think I'll have to say a thing. I think it'll be expressed for me. People have told me, `This is an outrage,'” she said. “If there had to be a reason for Tasha to die, maybe it was to take a look at this man and decide if he should be in this position.”

After her dog was shot, Mrs. Leitz paid a $65 ticket for violating the city's leash law.

She acknowledged that Tasha should have been restrained, but Mrs. Leitz said Sergeant Summers had no reason to harm the dog.

“The police have recognized that there was wrongdoing,” she said. “They recognized that he broke some codes, that the dog was in a fenced area, that it wasn't necessary to shoot the dog. ... That means a lot to me.”



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