Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Rick Pecsi off-duty police officers shoots neighbors dog, repeatedly

Knoxville, IL

Knox County

February 5, 2009  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Misdemeanor   1 dog Alleged  

The owner of a dog a Knoxville police officer allegedly shot with a pellet gun will pursue charges of criminal damage to property under $300, a Class A misdemeanor.

Samantha Boynton said she will ask Special Prosecutor Ed Parkinson to move forward with the charges because she doesn’t want officer Rick Pecsi to “think he has gotten away with” the alleged incident.

Pecsi was accused in February of shooting Boynton’s dog, Mitzi, with a pellet gun while off duty at his home. Boynton said the lawsuit has nothing to do with money, as her veterinarian’s bill was $55.

“I have never asked the man for a penny,” Boynton said. “I just want him charged for what he did.”

In a letter dated July 14, Parkinson told Boynton his office had reviewed police reports and discussed the dog’s injuries with her veterinarian. He said a conviction on animal cruelty charges would be unlikely, but that he had prepared a misdemeanor complaint, should she want to move forward.

“If you wish to press charges that do fit the situation, I will file this information and proceed accordingly,” the letter read.

The draft of the complaint alleges Pecsi “knowingly injured” Boynton’s dog and that he “shot the dog numerous times with a pellet or bb gun.”

“It’s our understanding that no criminal information has been filed and the state’s appellate prosecutor’s office has not made up its mind whether it’s going to file charges,” said Dan Alcorn, a Galesburg attorney who will represent Pecsi. “Until and unless the case is filed, we will have no further comment.”

A Class A misdemeanor in Illinois carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500.

Update 4/21/09:  After a 50-minute heated discussion in closed session, the Knoxville City Council voted not to offer a contract to Pecsi.

The vote means Pecsi, a former Knoxville police chief, will not be rehired in his current position.

Pecsi is under investigation by the Illinois State Police and State Appellate Prosecutor's Office for allegedly shooting his neighbor's dog with a pellet gun on Feb. 5.

The Knox County State's Attorney's Office turned over the case to the appellate prosecutor because of a conflict of interest. City attorney Wayne Statham told the council he has not heard back on the status of the investigation but expects to hear something within 30 days if charges against Pecsi will be filed.

Samantha J. Boynton, 104 Henderson Road, told police she and her sister were leaving her home Feb. 5 and left the back door open. She said her dog got out and went into Pecsi's yard just before he shot the dog several times.

The dog was injured and bleeding, and other Knoxville officers who responded observed blood on the back patio, door frame, window blinds, door glass and through the living room of the residence. The 11-year-old dog survived the shooting.

Boynton spoke about her frustration about the handling of the incident at the meeting.

"Something needs to be done," Boynton said before Pecsi's contract vote was taken. "It's absurd. He is supposed to uphold the law. I don't want an apology. I think he shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun."

Alderman Lester Naslund made the motion to go into executive session before voting on personnel contracts. "We're not saying he did or didn't do anything," Naslund said after the meeting. "We are just not hiring him."

Update 5/21/09:  Mayor Terry Pool said an investigation continues into a former Knoxville police officer who was not rehired in April, as the City Council considers his reinstatement.

At its next meeting, the council is expected to revisit its decision to not renew the contract of Rick Pecsi.

Pool said the matter is still under investigation and because of this, the incident should not be a factor in his employment status.  "He's innocent until proven guilty," Pool said. "I just want to be fair and just and give officer Pecsi a fair shake."

The motion was made following a closed session during which the council heard Pecsi's attorney Dan Alcorn's arguments for reinstatement.

Pecsi is accused of shooting a neighbor's dog up to 20 times with a pellet gun after the dog wandered into his yard Feb. 5.

The matter has divided much of the council.

During its April 20 meeting, a 50-minute heated closed session was followed by a vote to not rehire Pecsi.

Alderman Lester Naslund said he would not change his vote against Pecsi.

And Alderman Jim Eastwood said the alleged dog-shooting incident has to be included in any discussion.

Update 6/2/09:  A City Clerk resigned, an aftershock of the Knoxville City Council's decision to rehire police officer Rick Pecsi.

The clerk said she was disappointed with the way the council came to its decision.  "I can work with a council that agrees to disagree," she said. "But I have a hard time working with people who are in a deliberative decision-making capacity and choose to not base their decisions on fact when it comes to the good of the public body."

The council voted 4-4, with Mayor Terry Pool casting a tiebreaking vote for Pecsi's reinstatement.

Alderman Bart Randall voted to reinstate Pecsi because he said the circumstances of his dismissal were not just.  "If you're going to take somebody's living away from them, their salary and everything, then it needs to be done under a disciplinary act and not just because the council decided not to rehire him," Randall said.

Pecsi will regain all of his seniority, and the city will reimburse attorney fees he incurred while fighting the April 20 decision to not renew his contract.   Pecsi's attorney indicated he would agree to drop any and all legal action against the city of Knoxville.

After the meeting, Alderman Rob Derham, who voted against reinstatement, did not comment.

City Clerk Peg Bivens said her resignation was a direct result of the council revisiting the issue, despite the officer's past.  "It had everything to do with the decision of the council to hire Rick Pecsi as a patrol officer despite all of the known controversy surrounding his past employment records," she said.

Pecsi's contract was not renewed after allegations he shot a neighbor's dog with a pellet gun. State police have completed an investigation, and the matter is now in the hands of the Knox County state's attorney's office.

In 2004, the Public Safety Committee investigated Pecsi's use of department-owned cell phones.

In 2002, then-mayor Phil Myers tried to replace Pecsi as police chief after city records showed he had been paid for more than 400 hours of overtime in 1999 and more than 600 in 2000.

Myers replaced Pecsi with current Police Chief Ron Poyner in 2007.

Reference:

The Register-Mail  The Peoria Journal Star