Irmo police officer who shot dog fired for behavior, traffic stop

tflach@thestate.comApril 24, 2014 

— The Irmo police officer who stirred controversy last fall for shooting a dog has been fired for what town officials say is improper behavior in stopping motorists suspected of traffic violations.

Officer L.R. Null was dismissed in early April after five years as a town policeman for what Police Chief Brian Buck said was “a policy violation in a traffic stop he conducted.”

Buck declined to be specific about that stop, but emphasized that the canine shooting played no part in the decision.

Null’s firing led to the dismissal recently of 100 traffic tickets – 24 for suspected drunken driving and 76 others for speeding and recklessness, town officials said. It was unclear how many stops or the period in which the incidents occurred.

“This is abnormal,” town administrator Bob Brown said. “It’s upsetting.”

The problems in the traffic stops were the culmination of a series of problems in Null’s performance, officials said.

“This wasn’t the first incident,” Brown said. “The officer got numerous chances and had other policy violations.”

Town leaders briefed on the firing are satisfied with it.

“There was sufficient stuff in the gentleman’s record that caused this to happen,” Mayor Hardy King said. “He was probably zealous in doing his job and probably got a little overzealous.”

Charles Ormond, Null’s lawyer, declined comment.

Animal lovers were upset by Null’s shooting of an unrestrained dog Sept. 1. But town officials said the shooting was self-defense that was regrettable but necessary.

The shooting occurred after police were called to the Old Friarsgate neighborhood by a jogger who said the dog chased him and seemed dangerous, according to a report.

Null said he shot the 40-pound mixed breed after it ran toward him “in a threatening manner” as the officer went to its home to contact its owners there about the animal being loose, the report said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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