Doctor Testifies ‘No Dog Bite’ in Cpl. Cherry Hearing

By Pat Johnson | Dec 18, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Tuckerton Police Cpl. Justine Cherry with his wife Michele.

Tuckerton — The emergency room doctor who examined and treated Wendy Tucker on the night of Jan. 9, 2014 after she was brought there by police testified last Friday that she had not received a dog bite during her apprehension.

Tucker had been driving with an suspended license and allegedly eluded Tuckerton police Cpl. Justin Cherry, who followed her to Barnegat and unleashed his K-9 dog while she was being arrested by Barnegat police.

Cherry has been suspended without pay since April 2014 while criminal charges against him wound through the Ocean County Superior Court. Cherry was exonerated of all charges in April of this year, but Tuckerton has taken disciplinary action against him and that hearing has continued in municipal court.

Dr. Ronald Klebacher was on duty in the Southern Ocean Medical Center emergency room when Cherry brought Tucker there. Cherry’s attorney, Tracey Riley, first established Klebacher’s credentials and the procedure he would have taken if there had been a dog bite. Klebacher said he would have irrigated the wound, sutured the wound if needed, given antibiotics and followed up with a tetanus shot if needed.

But Tucker was not complaining of a dog bite; she was complaining of shoulder pain, he said. Yet during his thorough exam of Tucker (who had used her married name of Wendy Magee) he found no evidence of a dog bite. He did treat Tucker for a dislocated shoulder and for abrasions she allegedly received when she was pulled from the car by Barnegat police and fell to the parking lot pavement.

Tucker had been X-rayed by the ER nurses for head trauma due to the fall, wrist and shoulder pain that she had complained of and the doctor reviewed these and found no breaks.

His medical course of action was to sedate Tucker so he could put her shoulder back in the socket and then put her arm in a sling to keep the shoulder in place and instructed her to follow up with an orthopedist.

Riley then asked, “So there was no break in the skin? You did not irrigate a wound or provide sutures? You did not prescribe an antibiotic or tetanus shot?”

“No, I did not,” said Klebacher.

Riley also asked if Klebacher had received any telephone calls from then Tuckerton Police Chief Michael Caputo or present Police Chief Brian Olsen and he said he had not.

During cross-examination by Ian Goldman, the borough’s attorney, Klebacher continued to assert there had been no dog bite. And when Goldman asked if mental trauma could result from being attacked by a dog, Klebacher said that was beyond his area of expertise.

The hearing continued with Cherry’s testimony. Cross-examination is set for Tuesday, Dec. 17.  —P.J.

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