A pre-warrant hearing date has been set in the case of the Royston Police officer who shot and killed a neighbor’s dog last month.
The case will be heard before Judge Donald Tabor on July 7th at 9a in Hart County Magistrate Court. Hart County Magistrate Judge Thomas Jordan had asked Stephens County Magistrate Judge Donald Tabor to hear the case.
The hearing will determine whether there is enough evidence to charge Officer Ken Reynolds with cruelty to animals and issue a warrant for his arrest.
Originally scheduled for early June, the dog’s owner Mark Jordan said he asked for the delay in order to get legal advice and because one of his witnesses was not able to attend the hearing last week.
The incident happened sometime between May 28 and May 29 on Mt. Olivet Road where Reynolds lives.
According to Jordan, he was staying with friend Deborah Cleveland when let his three dogs out early on the morning of May 28th, but one dog, named Booder, did not return.
"He goes out at 6a and he doesn't come back," Jordan said. "So we're calling, we're calling, we're calling and we're looking, we're looking, we're looking. And it's only until the next day right around 4p and she (Deborah Cleveland) walks up on Booder because she's been calling and these people (Reynolds) have been hearing all that from me and her calling since...it was obvious Booder was somewhere missing."
Jordan said he found Booder dead, just inside Cleveland’s 30-acre property, which is next door to Reynold’s property.
Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland says Reynolds told his Deputies he shot the dog because he was afraid for the safety of his Chihuahua.
"He was afraid that dog, and I believe there was another one with it, might attack his dog and he shot the dog," Cleveland said.
According to Cleveland, officer Reynolds has had problems in the past with his neighbor's dogs coming onto his property and killing his chickens.
"In this particular incidence, this man has had a history of dogs coming on his property and causing problems, including killing his chickens. That's documented. He did an incident report when his poultry was killed. The gray area comes when dogs come back on your property and they're not attacking, but we're going to get some clarification, hopefully," Cleveland said.
According to Cleveland, officer Reynolds has had problems in the past with his neighbors dogs coming onto his property and killing his chickens.
Jordan claims his dog was on Cleveland’s property when it was shot and would not have done anything to warrant Reynolds shooting it.
"Booder was not attacking him," Jordan said. "In fact by the direction of where he was, he was coming this way. this is a baby puppy. He may have some size to him, but he is a baby puppy. You will never find a sweeter dog that what Booder was and this guy shot him and left him to die."
Cleveland said it is only legal to shoot a dog that is on your property and doesn't belong to you if it is considered dangerous.
"That dog has to be causing a huge problem before you can actually shoot the dog," Cleveland said. "You can't just shoot a dog for coming on your property."
Cleveland said he hopes an independent magistrate judge will be able to clear the matter and make an objective determination as to whether either Reynolds or his neighbor was at fault.
Depending on what the Magistrate Judge rules, officer Reynolds could be charged with either misdemeanor animal cruelty, or felony animal cruelty, or the judge could rule in the officer’s favor.