Lexington officer who killed dog could face cruelty charge; internal investigation launched

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMarch 11, 2014 

Jeff Brangers and Angel

A Lexington police officer faces an internal investigation and might be charged later this week with animal cruelty, authorities said Tuesday.

The Scott County Sheriff's Office said deputies had asked the Scott County Attorney's Office to review the case, in which officer Jeff Brangers shot and killed a neighbor's black Labrador Saturday as it walked away from his property. Brangers, a Scott County resident, keeps chickens on his property about five miles east of Georgetown.

Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton said Tuesday that Brangers might be charged with second-degree animal cruelty later this week.

Conflicting statements attributed to Brangers caused the sheriff's office and the county attorney's office to consider filing a charge, Hampton said.

State law says, "Any livestock owner or his agent, without liability, may kill any dog trespassing on that owner's property and observed in the act of pursuing or wounding his livestock."

Brangers initially told a sheriff's deputy that the dog was in a crouched position and looking at his chickens. But he later said that he shot the dog as it was walking away.

In that instance, if the chickens were not being pursued or wounded, Brangers would not have been within his rights to shoot the dog.

"When the dog's walking away, that changes that," Hampton said.

Dog owner Brian Geary must sign a complaint, which must also be signed by a judge. Once that is done, Brangers would be served a court summons to appear in Scott District Court, Hampton said.

Geary said Tuesday that he intends to press charges. Second-degree animal cruelty is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

Also Tuesday, the Lexington Division of Police said it has started an internal inquiry into the dog's shooting.

Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts confirmed the inquiry Tuesday afternoon.

Brangers, 39, joined the Lexington police force in 2012.

Geary, who also raises chickens on his property, said in an interview on Monday that Angel, a 12-year-old Labrador, had never bothered poultry in the past. Geary said Brangers told him, "I have a right as a property owner to protect my property from threats, and I perceived her as a threat. ... Your dog was on my property. I eliminated the threat."

"If he didn't catch her chasing chickens, he had no grounds to the shoot the dog," Geary said Monday. "That's my whole premise."

Herald-Leader reporter Jim Warren contributed to this story. Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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