HOWLAND Charge filed after dog is shot, killed
The chief defended the policeman's action in killing the German shepherd.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HOWLAND -- A 19-year-old Mineral Ridge woman who was minding a 9-month-old German shepherd when it was shot and killed by a police officer is facing a misdemeanor charge of failing to properly confine a dog.
Rachael Carlisle is scheduled to appear next week in Warren Municipal Court, where Sgt. John Rumancik filed the charge Thursday.
Carlisle said she was staying at her aunt's home on Niles-Cortland Road for the weekend to care for her aunt's three dogs -- two German shepherds and one small black and white dog.
What happened: Rumancik said he was called to the home of Wendy Thomas around 5:18 p.m. Sunday by Fred Stosik, who lives next door. Stosik, a township firefighter, told Rumancik that the dogs had been running loose for most of the day and that he had almost been bitten several times.
According to Rumanick's report, he and Stosik walked to the back yard, where he saw the three dogs sitting on Thomas' porch.
When one of the shepherds approached the men in what Rumancik described as an aggressive manner, he shot at it four times.
Rumancik noted in his report that when the 65-pound dog attempted to get up, he shot one more time, hitting it in the neck. The report states that when Patrol Officer Jeff Urso arrived, the dog was still alive, so Urso shot it another time to prevent further suffering.
Owner's reaction: "This was my pet -- a member of my family," Thomas said. "I was out of town for the weekend and I get a call from my niece that my dog has been killed. He was a very friendly dog. He wouldn't have hurt anyone. I am going to contact my lawyer."
Carlisle said she doesn't remember allowing the shepherds to run loose.
"The two shepherds were on their leashes in the back yard, and I just let the smaller one out to go to the bathroom," Carlisle said.
"All of a sudden, I hear three gunshots, and I look outside, and I see Hannibal on the ground and the officer pointing the gun at him. The officer then shot some more, turned at me and said that he'd deal with me later. I ran back in the house and just lost it."
Carlisle said that when another officer came to the door a few minutes later, she gave him her personal information and nothing more.
"The police called me and asked me to come down to the station and give a statement, but my attorney told me not to talk without him there, so I didn't go."
Report of statements: Urso reported, however, that Carlisle told him the dogs were let out moments before officers arrived. The report also says that Urso told Carlisle that police have had numerous complaints of the dogs' running loose. He said Carlisle told him that her aunt is irresponsible at times and that she [Carlisle] feels responsible for the dog's death.
Police Chief Steve Lamantia said he thinks the use of deadly force in destroying the animal was justified and within the police department's guidelines.
"John Rumancik was fearing for his safety," Lamantia said. He noted that his department has received numerous complaints about the dogs' not being leashed. He called Rumancik, a 27-year veteran, an excellent officer.
Vet talks: Dr. Sukhbir Singh, Hannibal's veterinarian, said the dog was shot six times, all on the left side. He noted that he had seen the dog on two other occasions and described it as friendly and cooperative.
John Leopardi, director of the Trumbull County Humane Society, said he is going to investigate.