Exclusive: Cop Murders Dog, Police Cover Up Exposed – TAKE ACTION

activist, author, former political prisoner

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.

Take Action

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.

Photographic Evidence

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

10 Responses

  1. linda harrod says:

    Police Brutality

    • admin says:

      i agree. if it was a human that presented an alleged threat, there would be outrage if his first line of action was to fatally shoot that individual. in this case, since it’s a canine, they clearly don’t care. But the fact that the dog was shot in his own backyard is egregious and demands a thorough investigation at the very least.

  2. danny nichols says:

    If there’s video, it should be released via the freedom of information act. The public has a right to know if there is an armed murderer on the loose.

    • admin says:

      absolutely, danny. i agree. two open records requests (because it’s a state-level agency) were filed this morning. maybe i’ll pdf them. but the one that relates to the video follows. the community has a vested interest in seeing all available evidence when a public servant decides to use lethal force.

      Amanda Mitchell
      Records Department
      Benson Police Department
      303 E.Church Street
      Benson, NC 27504

      Dear Amanda Mitchell,

      Pursuant to the state open records law N.C. Gen. Stat. Secs. 132-1 to 132-10, I write to request access to and a copy of the video documented in the attached “Incident/Investigation Report”dated January 16, 2018. The video in question was recorded by Captain James Herring, establishes his interaction with a Caucasian Shepherd on this evening as well as him subsequently firing four bullets into the dog.

      If your agency does not maintain these public records, please let me know who does and include the proper custodian’s name and address. I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees of not more than $10. If the cost would be greater than this amount, please notify me. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document.

      I would request your response within ten (10) business days.

      If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.

      I would note that violation of the open records law can result in the award of reasonable attorney fees, for which you may be held personally liable. See N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 132-9(c).

      Thank you for your assistance.


      Camille A. Marino
      Eleventh Hour for Animals

  3. Anne Marie Curtiss says:

    Law enforcement is misusing the policy that if they dog is aggressive or an imminent threat they can shoot it. To many furry family members are being lost. Law enforcement officers are in general afraid of dogs, the same way with postal employees are. I read a story recently where the cop shot the dog for barking at him. If there’s no video then it’s justified. Case closed. All officers need body cameras, that’s the only answer I see. Also maybe some clarification of the policy or more training is needed.

    • admin says:

      “if there’s no video then it’s justified” – really?

      a fence falls and a cop murders a dog in his own backyard and you believe that’s justified? first, a public servant is not entitled to resort to deadly force because he can. such an individual presents a danger to the community. secondly, if that was a human child instead of a canine family member, i suspect you’d be able to muster just a little bit more outrage.

      further, there IS a video and it’s being withheld. if that video showed that there was any real threat whatsoever, they’d have been handing it out in the town square.

      finally, the police clearly could not care less about this canine individual’s life and had every intention of covering up herring’s cold-blooded murder from jump. when mr. moore approached the cops after wakoda died, what did they do? did you read the police report? they threatened him to intimidate him into shutting up and going home. real professional, huh?

      • Desiree says:

        I think what Anne Marie meant is that if it’s not on video then the police consider it justified because there’s no proof to say it’s not and the case is closed. Only when there’s video is there actually an “investagation” if you can even call it that. This is disgusting and i dont believe killing this dog was the only way to handle this situation. Let’s say, just for arguments sake that Wakoda was being aggressive through the fence. As soon as he heard Wakoda “growling” and “snarling” through the fence he should’ve went in his house with his children immediately. Who knows what the antecedent was that caused Wakoda to be aggressive (if that’s even true). Maybe they were kicking the fence, or throwing rocks over the fence or sticking sticks through the slots in the fence to poke him, we don’t know. To me, this sounds like a trigger happy police officer who is either fabricating the whole “aggression” situation so he could murder this dog in which he didn’t like or who chose to murder a dog instead of taking his children inside his house to safety because he didn’t like the dog. Either way…this is BS!!!

        • admin says:

          Thanks so much for your comment, Desiree. I completely misunderstood.

          And I apologize for misreading your words, Anne Marie. I had people arguing on my fb page all day yesterday that I’m being unfair — that this trigger-happy cop was now in fear.

          I should add that people often read my sarcasm and completely miss the point. I’ve had things I’ve written sarcastically entered into evidence in court and all I can think is “are you kidding me?”!

          Thanks again everyone for supporting wakoda and his family.

    • Ellie israel says:

      We have a fenced in yard.  The mailbox is outside of the fence.  Some postal workers refuse to leave mail if our dogs are out as if they think their jaws are capable of elongating.  

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