A postal worker who pepper-sprayed a dog in attempt to prevent an attack was taken to the emergency room after he was struck repeatedly.
The dog’s owner, Anthony Wayne Stevens, 54, 2920 Camelot Lane, was arrested on a charge of battery as a Level 6 felony. It is the lowest felony classification in Indiana under a new system that went into effect July 1.
The 55-year-old postal worker, whom police declined to identify, was delivering mail at 9:50 a.m. Saturday in Stevens’ neighborhood north of the Williamsburg Apartments in northeast Columbus, police spokesman Sgt. Matt Harris said.
The postal worker told investigators that when two large dogs approached him on Camelot Lane, he clipped a container of pepper spray onto his mail pouch, which prompted a man, later identified as Stevens, to begin calling for the dogs, Harris said.
When one of the dogs — a Labrador-mix — charged at the postal worker, the mail carrier sprayed the animal one time with the pepper spray, Harris said.
Neighbors told police the dog owner immediately confronted the postal worker. As their argument grew heated, Stevens reportedly struck the mail carrier in the face with a leather leash, Harris said. Witnesses told officers Stevens punched the carrier repeatedly until he fell and continued hitting the man while he was on the ground, Harris said.
Paramedics who arrived after a neighbor called 911 took the postal worker to Columbus Regional Hospital, where he was treated for facial, leg and back injuries before he was released, Harris said.
If convicted of the felony battery charge, Stevens could be imprisoned for six months to two years and fined up to $10,000 under state sentencing guidelines.
The office of Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash will determine what state charges, if any, will be filed.
However, it’s also against federal law to assault a postal worker, Harris said.
If the U.S. government files charges and considers the leather leash a dangerous weapon, Stevens could receive a maximum 20-year sentence, a fine, or both, according to federal law.
Although Stevens was booked into the Bartholomew County Jail in lieu of a $3,500 bond, he was released Monday morning after a 48-hour hold without posting a bond, a jail spokeswoman said.