Beloved Caucasian Shepherd, Wakoda
On January 16, 2018 at approximately 8:41 pm, three Benson County police officers responded to an animal complaint at the home of Clayton Police Captain James “Richie” Herring. Herring had fatally shot his neighbor’s dog, a majestic and gentle Caucasian Shepherd, four times. He alleged that the dog was aggressive and that he was in fear for his and his children’s safety. Photographic Evidence illustrated below, however, demonstrates that Wakoda was assaulted on his side of the fence, in his own backyard, and that the police version of events are blatantly fabricated. The officers wrote up their report attached here, and ended it with “case closed.”
Wakoda’s family pictures
Maya Asterilla and Zebulon Moore were Wakoda’s guardians. They rushed their dog to a nearby emergency veterinarian hospital, but Wakoda died on the way. To add insult to injury, after his beloved companion died from four gunshot wounds, when Mr. Moore approached the officers to protest that they were obviously protecting their off-duty colleague, Police Officer J. Jordan, Officer Velazquez and Sgt. Lucas threatened to take action against Mr. Moore! The officers’ threats, presumably issued to intimidate the grieving man, are documented in their own report. The family is heartbroken and devastated. The children are traumatized. Ms. Asterilla filed a complaint against the police department the next day. While the Benson Police Department contends that they are “investigating” the responding officers’ false statement, the police chief stated that he will not change his mind and, obviously, no action is expected to be taken at this level since they are all protecting one another.
Benson police are also withholding a video recorded by Herring which they allege shows that Wakoda was “growling and snarling,” acting “aggressively,” and “charged” through a fence that separates the properties toward the off-duty cop. All parties agree that the fence was damaged. If Wakoda had “charged” through that fence toward Herring, his blood would have been on the cop’s property. It was not. The only trail of blood left by the dog started in his own back yard and led back to his own home where he likely tried to seek refuge after being shot by a trigger-happy off-duty cop. Eleventh Hour for Animals filed an open records request with the Benson Police Department this morning to obtain a copy of the video in question. Herring is a public servant and the community has a right to see the exact circumstances under which he chose to reach for his firearm and use deadly force.
Eleventh Hour filed a second open records request to obtain information regarding Captain Herring’s history in his capacity as a police officer, including information about all prior shootings, disciplinary actions, or other investigations into his job performance. This information is clearly of public interest. No police officer has a right to play god simply because they can and the community demands to know whether their public servants are fit for duty.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office has declined to press charges against James Herring. And now Wakoda and his family need your help. THIS PETITION is being circulated to compel the DA to re-open this case. Please sign and share throughout all of your social media networks. We are demanding that James Herring be held criminally accountable for murdering this gentle and beloved family dog and police officers involved be investigated and held accountable for covering up this cold-blooded murder to protect one of their own. A badge gives no one a right to murder at will and we must never allow the public trust to be betrayed when police officers choose to protect their friends rather than uphold the law.
Police responded to 19 Boardwalk Avenue where Mr. James Herring advised police that he had just shot a dog. The injured dog, a Caucasian Shepherd named Wakoda was laying in his own yard, not on Mr. Herring’s property, shot 4 times. Mr. Herring claimed that the vicious dog was “barking and snarling” and he feared for his safety and that of his children. He further claimed that the dog “charged” at him knocking down a fence that separated the yard, yet, on the morning after, there is no blood on the ground whatsoever where the police allege Wakoda was shot:
Nor is blood evident anywhere in Mr. Herring’s yard at all:
The blood on the ground in Wakoda’s own yard, on his side of the broken fence, suggests that this is the actual spot where he was gunned d0wn:
And we can see even more blood in Wakoda’s yard:
And even more evidence as the trail of blood in Wakoda’s yard leads back to his own house, indicating that he tried to run home as Herring continued to shoot him:
If Herring has a video of Wakoda charging at him, then we want to see it. The police report indicates that the video shows “the Caucasian Sheppard [sic] dog was snarling and growling at Mr. Herring… you can hear the barking and snarling getting louder, as the dog is getting closer to Mr. Herring, and at this time, you hear the red in color fence come down from the wooden boards it was attached to, and at this point you hear the firearm discharge.” Really? Wakoda was getting “closer” to the cop? Every piece of evidence supports Ms. Asterilla’s and Mr. Moore’s contention that a broken fence fell down and the poor dog who never left his own backyard was shot down in cold blood.
Camille A. Marino
Founder, Eleventh Hour for Animals
January 20, 2018