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AG Set to Review Dog Park Shooting

  • Logan Scelza with his dogs Echo, left, and Kato at a Hartford High School baseball game on May 4, 2015, in White River Junction, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hartford — Vermont State Police investigators have completed their investigation of the fatal shooting of a dog by an off-duty police officer in June at Watson Upper Valley Dog Park.

The final report was forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office last week. The inquiry focused on the June 25 incident where Logan Scelza, a four-year Hartford police officer, shot and killed a dog that was fighting with one of his own.

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John Treadwell, criminal division chief for the Attorney General’s Office, said a staff attorney will review Scelza’s actions and determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

The Attorney General’s Office attempts to issue decisions within 30 days in cases such as this, Treadwell said, but he noted “there are no guarantees.”

Scelza was placed on paid leave in the aftermath of the shooting, but he has since returned to work for the department in a restricted capacity, Hartford Police Chief Phil Kasten said on Tuesday via email.

“His current non-uniformed administrative responsibilities are confined to filing/inventorying, writing/typing, maintenance of portable breath testing instruments/speed measuring devices and reviewing surveillance video footage,” Kasten said.

Because Scelza’s duty weapon was turned over to state police as part of the shooting investigation, Kasten said, the department issued Scelza another firearm to carry in the interim.

Vermont State Police Lt. Reg Trayah said via email last week that only “the facts” were contained in the police report that was handed over to the Attorney General’s Office. He said investigators didn’t make a recommendation as to whether charges should be filed, as they sometimes do in affidavits filed in criminal court cases.

“We didn’t make a conclusion,” Trayah said. “We left it for the AG’s office to come to that.”

According to a Hartford police department news release issued shortly after the shooting, Scelza was with his two huskies at the park when one of his dogs “was reportedly bitten in the throat by a pit bull” during an altercation.

Witnesses to the incident said Scelza fired three warning shots into the ground before shooting the pit bull four times — once in the face and three times in the chest. The pit bull died at the park.

Scelza, whose own dog survived the incident, left the park with his pets before on-duty police officers could respond to the scene.

Kasten, the Hartford chief, said he asked Vermont State Police to investigate the matter in order “to insure a fair and impartial process.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.