Witness on officer’s run-in with squirrel: ‘He stepped on its ta - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Witness on officer’s run-in with squirrel: ‘He stepped on its tail, threatened to shoot it’

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Mountain City, TN (WJHL) -

Documents obtained by WJHL contain new information about an incident involving a shot fired at a squirrel and mace used on the animal in a Mountain City Dollar General store back in September.

Former Mountain City officer Jody Putnam was called to assist on a “squirrel at large” inside the Dollar General, 501 South Church St., Mountain City, around 5:20 p.m. Sept. 27, according to a police document obtained via an open records request.

The squirrel was “running up and down the aisle and customers was trying to catch it,” the report reads.

Putnam thought using chemical spray on the squirrel would enable it to be caught, but the animal ran behind some shelves, according to one witness statement.

Putnam reportedly tried to contact animal control but was unable to reach anyone. Putnam then fired a shot at the squirrel, which “took off again toward a female with a baby,” according to the police report.

Putnam, gun drawn, approached the woman and child and stepped on the squirrel’s tail.

According to one witness statement, she was walking down the toilet paper aisle and saw the squirrel running toward her.

“The officer stepped on its tail and threatened to shoot it,” the witness wrote.

An employee then took a towel, grabbed the squirrel and took it outside to release it.

Another witness statement about the incident also mentioned herself and an employee gagging from the chemical spray.

This witness also said Putnam had his gun drawn and that it was pointed in her direction after the squirrel was released outside. She said Putnam seemed to be upset and did not realize his weapon was pointed at her.

Customers in the store and employees reportedly had a hard time breathing due to the chemical spray, according to the police report.

Mountain City Council meeting minutes from Oct. 1 reveal Police Chief Denver Church appeared before the board and said Putnam “fired his weapon in an unsafe manner and against policy” and recommended he be terminated. The council members voted to support Denver.

On Oct. 31 Putnam requested a public name clearing hearing.  

In his request, Putnam said statements made through local and national media about the incident were false and created a defamatory impression about his termination from the police department.


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Copyright 2013 WJHL. All rights reserved. Lauren Haviland contributed to this report. 

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