NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio - It was a packed house at North Ridgeville City Hall Monday night.
Dozens turned out for a City Council meeting to voice their outrage that no discipline has been given to Humane Officer Barry Accorti after the June 10 incident where a North Ridgeville homeowner said he shot five kittens in the backyard, as her children watched inside.
One after the other, people called for Accorti’s termination.
“They made excuses for this man,” was one of the comments made. “Fire this monster,” another as people took their turn getting three minutes to voice their concerns, this time directly to the mayor and City Council members.
Others who spoke called for prosecution.
Don Keister from Brunswick said Monday, “If I were to go ahead and not want my pet and do the exact same thing, shoot them, I’d be on wouldn’t I? Mr. Mayor?”
Not everyone spoke out against Accorti but the council meeting attracted animal activists from as far as Washington D.C., who also addressed North Ridgeville council members about the shooting.
The first to take the podium was North Ridgeville’s own police chief who defended actions once more. On the subject of not dismissing or disciplining Officer Accorti, Chief Mike Freeman said Monday night, “I’m not the type of guy who’s just going to do something to make the cameras go away.” Speaking to the legality of what Accorti did, the Chief said, “I want to be clear, there were no children present outside the home when this occurred.”
Chief Freeman did say they plan to review policy asking the public for time to do so. North Ridgeville’s mayor, David Gillock, also spoke and also mentioned his outrage of city employees being threatened as the incident continues to garner national attention.
Speaking to Accorti’s actions, Gillock said, “Humane Officer Accorti could have communicated better with the resident. Both the police chief and I have said that and talked about it and he’s already counseled or Accorti has already been counseled by the chief for not being crystal clear about what he was going to do.”
The mayor then continued, “But that is not the issue. The issues, in my opinion, is what do we do with these cats? Should we continue the service? If we do, how can we improve our protocol?”
Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals members in attendance agreed policy does need to change but disagreed on Accorti’s actions not being a part of the issue. Teresa Landon, with the OSPCA, handed a wrapped petition she said included over 37,000 signatures calling for Accorti’s termination.
Landon said they have received and collected several reports that involve Officer Accorti and North Ridgeville’s other humane officer participating in a number of other questionable incidents.
“This is huge because not only has this man killed needlessly, but he has also endangered residents of this town,” said Landon.
Landon told NewsChannel5 Monday night that an Ohio SPCA attorney will be submitting a demand letter to the mayor and police chief as well as other North Ridgeville officials as early as Tuesday, demanding certain action be taken.
Among the demands, the North Ridgeville Police Department cease and desist with their shooting of cats and shooting on private property. Landon said the demand letter will require demands be met by a certain period of time and if not, the Ohio SPCA will file a lawsuit against those city officials.
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