A Superior man who allegedly punched a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 following a high-speed chase in the Poplar area made his initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court Monday, July 20.
Gerard P. Bunnell Jr., 35, faces felony counts of attempting to flee or elude an officer and bail jumping, as well as misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer and harassment of police and fire animals, all as a repeater, according to the criminal complaint. Cash bail of $10,000 was set for Bunnell, and a signature bond in a separate Douglas County case was upgraded to $2,000 cash bail. He was ordered to have no contact with Deputy Cory Fossum or his K-9 Sam.
Fossum responded to a report of an intoxicated male at Dollar General in the village of Poplar who was driving a truck with no license plates at 6:31 p.m. Sunday, July 19, the complaint said.
The man, later identified as Bunnell, was backing out of a parking stall when Fossum arrived. The deputy asked him to stop and pull over. Bunnell made a rude gesture and sped out of the parking lot, the complaint said.
Fossum turned on the lights and siren of his vehicle and followed Bunnell’s truck on County Highway P, Bayfield Road and onto Highway 2. The truck reached speeds estimated at 80 mph before Bunnell drove into a ditch on the side of Highway 2, the complaint said.
Bunnell refused to comply with orders to remain in the vehicle and show his hands, and he appeared to be preparing to run away. Fossum deployed K-9 Sam, and Bunnell began striking Sam on the head and grabbing at the dog’s nose and mouth after the police dog apprehended him. K-9 Sam continued to hold Bunnell until two citizens stepped in to help control the man. The dog was not injured.
Bunnell has four prior felony convictions out of Wisconsin and had an active bench warrant out of Douglas County at the time of his arrest. He failed to appear for a July 13 status conference on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and resisting or obstructing an officer, according to online court records.
If convicted, Bunnell faces a maximum penalty of up to six years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 for the bail jumping charge. He faces a maximum penalty of up to three years and six months imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 on the fleeing count. Bunnell remained in custody at the Douglas County Jail Thursday, July 23. His next court appearance was set for July 29.