Deputy fired following dog-shooting incident

By The Associated Press
Posted 8:25AM on Sunday 6th February 2005 ( 19 years ago )
<p>A Gwinnett County sheriff's deputy was fired this week after allegedly killing a Hall County man's coonhound.</p><p>Sgt. Michael Mustachio, of Clermont, was fired Monday because of conduct unbecoming an officer, according to a termination letter. He faces a felony animal cruelty charge, and the dog's owner, hunter Stanley Barnes, filed suit against the officer Thursday, asking for $50,000 and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.</p><p>Barnes' attorney, E. Janes Boswell, said the dog cost $2,500.</p><p>Mustachio told White County deputies he merely was trying to scare the dog, named Kate, which was baying along with another dog as if they'd cornered a raccoon.</p><p>The termination letter suggests Mustachio tried to cover up the shooting.</p><p>"The reckless disregard for an animal's life and the attempt to conceal your actions in a matter being investigated by law enforcement reflects discredit," Gwinnett County Chief Deputy Mike Boyd wrote. "Your credibility and effectiveness as a deputy is permanently impaired."</p><p>The letter states Mustachio fired a pistol and rifle several times, but Mustachio never said he felt threatened by the canine.</p><p>Mustachio's attorney, Dan Summer, said he was disappointed that the department fired his client before his day in court. Mustachio "should be entitled to the presumption of innocence," Summer said.</p><p>The hound posed a threat to the Mustachio family's pets, and should not have been on the Mustachios' property, he said.</p><p>The shooting occurred on Christmas Eve. Mustachio was placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. He had worked for the sheriff's office since 1996.</p><p>___</p><p>HASH(0x2866708)</p>

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