Navy patrolman charged with animal cruelty connected to domestic dispute

A Navy patrolman was arrested Friday after he allegedly beat up a dog during a domestic dispute with his wife last month.

Groton Town police charged Matthew Silva, 24, of 54 Michigan Drive, Groton, with second-degree unlawful restraint, breach of peace and cruelty to animals.

Police said they responded to the Michigan Drive home on Jan. 20. Silva’s wife told police that the day before she and Silva got into an argument.

She said Silva got upset with her when her nearly 2-year-old daughter spilled water on the living room floor. She told police that Silva started cursing at her and called her “retarded,” the arrest warrant said.

The woman told police that she started to walk away from him when he grabbed her by the upper arm and yanked her back towards him, the warrant said. She told police that she tried to pull away, but that Silva would only squeeze her arm harder.

During the dispute, the woman’s dogs started to bark at Silva while he restrained her. She told police that while holding on to her, he grabbed her dog, Achilles, by the tail and lifted the dog from the ground, the warrant said. The warrant did not specify the breed of the dog.

The woman told police that Silva started to choke “the life out of the dog.” She told police that she slapped Silva in the face so he would let both of them go, the warrant said.

She said she brought her daughter and dogs upstairs and closed the door. She did not seek medical attention for the dog, the warrant said.

The woman said she had no contact with Silva until the next day when she texted him about their Internet service. She said she stopped texting him because he began to argue with her through the text messages.

She said she finally contacted police because she was afraid for her safety and that of the dogs. She told police that she did not believe Silva would hurt her daughter.

Police spoke to Silva on Jan. 22. He told police that he asked his wife why she left a bowl of water for the toddler to play with. He said that she did not answer his question.

He said he continued to ask why she left the bowl of water out when she started to walk away. He said he reached out to grab the victim by the wrist. She pulled away and he let her go, the warrant said.

Silva told police that dog was barking and that he reached out to calm the dog. He told police that he grabbed the dog with his left hand, and was attempting to put his right arm around the dog’s chest so he could rub the belly.

He told police that his wife thought he was going to hit the dog and that was when she slapped him in the face. He said he let go of the dog, and that she slapped him again.

Silva, a master-at-arms second class, works in the Security Department at the Navy Submarine Base. He was released on a promise to appear in court, and was scheduled to appear Monday in New London Superior Court.

i.larraneta@theday.com

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