ST. CHARLES COUNTY — A St. Charles County sheriff’s deputy charged in May with fatally shooting a neighbor’s dog resigned last month and has now been charged with a misdemeanor in the case.
The St. Charles County family whose dog was killed said they were “horrified” when they learned this week that the man was only facing one animal abuse charge. A video of the dog’s owner confronting the neighbor to ask if he was responsible for the May 22 death of their dog, Apollo, has captured national attention.
Ryan Kuehner, who was a St. Charles County sheriff’s deputy at the time of the shooting, received a criminal summons Thursday for misdemeanor animal abuse from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. His court appearance is scheduled for July 22.
“I’m not disappointed with the prosecutor, the detectives, whoever worked there because I understand what their limitations are, but I’m really disappointed with Missouri law that this is the result of such a terrible crime,” Erica said. Hansen, who owned the dog with her boyfriend, Eric Bacon, and her two sons.
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St. Charles County Sheriff Scott Lewis said Monday his office investigated after the owners reported the incident involving the deputy. Kuehner resigned after Lewis initiated disciplinary proceedings against him on June 17. The sheriff added that he apologized to Bacon last week for the loss of the family.
The criminal investigation into the shooting was led by the St. Charles County Police Department. The county attorney then asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor because of a “family relationship between the suspect and an employee of this office.” He was turned over to Jefferson County prosecutors.
Kuehner was off duty at the time of the shooting. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Hansen said she and her family are considering their legal options. She said she has spoken with others whose pets have died in similar circumstances and wants to push for tougher consequences for animal abuse.
“Moving forward is where I put my energy,” she said.
On the day of the shooting, Hansen said, she and her family were at her mother’s house in unincorporated St. Charles County when she noticed Apollo appeared to be choking. The dog died while trying to get him to a vet. Hansen said X-rays showed a pellet had entered the dog’s chest cavity and collapsed both lungs.
Bacon later recorded a confrontation with Kuehner over the deputy’s property; in the video, Kuehner questioned why the dog wandered into his yard, but did not admit to shooting the 3-year-old mastiff mix.
Apollo would play with other dogs with permission from neighbors, Hansen said. However, she said the dog never walked in the deputy’s yard.
The death “left a hole” in the family’s hearts, Hansen said, and the family has since adopted two dogs from animal shelters.
Interest in the case has come from as far away as Michigan, some in the “early hours” and “with the callers’ level of intoxication questionable,” the St. Charles County District Attorney’s Office said. on his Facebook page after the shooting. The post was later deleted.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the St. Charles County Sheriff.