Saturday, January 22, 2000

Dog-shooting deputy suspended

Officer will be reassigned as guard, undergo training

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A Butler County sheriff's deputy who entered the wrong house on a domestic disturbance call and shot the family's dog was suspended Friday for one month without pay.

        After his suspension, Deputy Kevin Mofield will be reassigned from road patrol to guard duty at the Butler County Jail. He also will receive additional training in communication skills, the use of firearms, and search and seizure procedures.

        Sheriff Harold Don Gabbard decided on the disciplinary action after a four-day investigation of the incident, which occurred early Sunday morning at the New Miami home of Mike and Angie Diefenbacher.

        “The sheriff and Deputy Mofield both regret the loss of the Diefenbachers' family pet,” said Brad Kraemer, spokesman for the sheriff's department, in a written statement.

        Deputy Mofield should have radioed the dispatcher or other officers at the scene to confirm the address of the house where the disturbance occurred, Mr. Kraemer said.

        “Deputy Mofield now understands the importance of being diligent in locating the parties of the disturbance prior to entering anyone's home,” he said.

        The deputy has been on paid administrative leave since the incident. He has an unlisted home telephone number and could not be reached for comment Friday.

        When Deputy Mofield entered the Diefenbachers' home on North Wichita Drive, Bruto, an American pit bull terrier, lunged at him. As the deputy tried to back out of the house, Bruto lunged at him two more times and bit him on the hand.

        After being bitten, Deputy Mofield pulled out his gun and shot the dog in the back, Mr. Kraemer said. The bullet paralyzed Bruto's back legs, and the Diefenbachers had him euthanized at a veterinarian's office.

        A New Miami police officer and two deputies had responded to a domestic disturbance on North Wichita Drive at 2:30 a.m., Sunday.

        Mr. Kraemer said Deputy Mofield's decision to approach the Diefenbachers' house was “a sound deci sion based on common sense.”

        When Deputy Mofield arrived, the house where the disturbance occurred was dark, while lights were on in the Diefenbachers' house and the front door was open, the sheriff's investigation revealed.

        But before entering the Diefenbachers' house, the deputy should have double-checked the location of the house where the disturbance occurred, Mr. Kraemer said.

        Two adults and five children were asleep in the Diefenbachers' house when Deputy Mofield entered.

        The dog bite required no stitches, Mr. Kraemer said.

        The Diefenbachers could not be reached for comment Friday. They had said earlier this week that Deputy Mofield should be punished, but should not lose his job.

        The family also has talked with an attorney about taking possible legal action against the sheriff's department.


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