In Another Outrageous Miscarriage of Justice, Rogue Cop Jonathan N. Snoddy Is Let Off with a $50 Fine for Savagely Bludgeoning to Death an Injured Cat
"Given (Jonathan N.) Snoddy's conviction of animal cruelty in the fatal beating of a defenseless animal, we are deeply disappointed with the minimal sentence he received. To retain someone found guilty of a violent crime against an animal as an officer of public safety is dangerous for the community."
-- Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies
On November 11th of last year, a forever nameless cat of undisclosed pedigree and description was run down and left for dead by a hit-and-run motorist on Settlers Lane in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Area resident Wayne Meadows went to its aid but, typically, was unable to persuade either the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA, Animal Control, or several unidentified local veterinarians to intervene. Most likely they were too busy either killing other cats or counting their money to be bothered.
In desperation, he committed the fatal mistake of calling in the Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD). Twenty-five-year-old hotshot cop Jonathan N. Snoddy arrived on the scene but instead of rushing the injured cat to the nearest veterinary clinic, which was only thirty minutes away, he proceeded to bludgeon it to death with his night stick.
Although he was inside his townhouse at the time of the unprovoked attack, Meadows overheard approximately twenty blows being struck on his front steps. (See photo above of him on the steps.)
The attack was so brutal and prolonged that blood stains were left on his porch and the siding and rockwork damaged. (See photo below.)
Normally, that would have been the end of the matter and this defenseless cat simply would have joined the legions of other nameless felines who are murdered each year by police officers in the United States. Instead of turning a blind eye to Snoddy's murderous rampage, Meadows demonstrated his true mettle by contacting the media and several animal rights groups.
That in turn prompted thousands of cat-lovers from around the world to sign petitions demanding that Snoddy be investigated and punished. The fix already was in place, however, and even that public outpouring was insufficient in order to force the HPD to come clean.
"An internal investigation was conducted into this matter and appropriate action has been taken internally," the HPD told WHSV-TV of Harrisonburg on November 30th. (See "Man Who Reported Officer Beating Dying Cat Speaks on Outcry.") "In addition, the department continues to review the current procedures in handling animal complaints to determine if any changes or modifications need to be made."
Earlier on November 22nd, a meeting of the Harrisonburg City Council produced more of the same palaver but not any substantive action. "We just want to acknowledge that it is a story, and say in a public forum that it is something that the city is addressing," councilman Kai Degner told WHSV-TV on November 23rd. (See "Harrisonburg City Council Still Discussing Cop Killing Cat Case.") "We have a lot of confidence in the city staff's ability to deal with it appropriately. (See photo of him on the right below.)
Absolutely no one outside of Harrisonburg's notoriously corrupt political and legal establishment was about to concur with him on that point, especially Meadows. "The police department hasn't released any information about it," he told WHSV-TV in the November 30th article cited supra. "You know, everything is an internal investigation and they don't want to release the information about what's happened, what things have changed because of this, what, if any, punishment has gone against the officer in question."
Thanks to the persistence of Meadows, WHSV-TV, and cat-lovers, the Virginia State Police belatedly opened an investigation into the matter in early December that culminated in Snoddy being charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty on January 12th. A public whitewash dressed up to faintly resemble a trial was held March 8th in Rockingham County General District Court in Harrisonburg and it quickly degenerated into an even bigger farce than the HPD's internal investigation.
Specifically, Snoddy was let off with an insultingly lenient $50 fine and so far has been allowed to hold on to his job. Emboldened by their easy as pie victory, Snoddy's shysters, John C. Holloran and William W. Eldridge, announced afterwards their intention to appeal the adverse judgment to the Rockingham County Circuit Court.
Snoddy's appeal accordingly has been scheduled for April 9th before Judge James V. Lane and this time around a jury will decide his fate. It is quite obvious that the only reason Holloran has demanded a jury trial is that he is confident that Snoddy's fellow good old boys from Rockingham County will acquit his client and thus allow him to hang on to his precious $50. (See the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, March 12, 2012, "Cop in Cat Beating Scheduled for Jury Trial.")
In what masquerades as justice in Virginia, retired judge Steven Helvin was called in to try the case after Richard A. Claybrook and William Heatwole recused themselves because of their prior dealings with Snoddy. Even that sounds a little fishy in that Heatwole normally is not even assigned to the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District in which Harrisonburg lies, but rather holds court in the Twenty-Fifth Judicial District. No reason has been given as to why either David Shaw Whitacre, W. Dale Houff, or Amy B. Tisinger could not have tried the case since they sit on the same bench as Claybrook.
Always willing to be of service to the same legal and political establishment that has kept him high and dry and in clover throughout his lifetime, old reliable Helvin wasted no time in letting everyone know that he is anything but an impartial trier of facts. "It's difficult for a judge to second-guess law enforcement," he candidly admitted according to the account of the proceedings rendered in the Daily News-Record on March 9th. (See "City Cop Loses a $50 Case.") "But I think the way he killed the cat was in violation. The way he killed the cat was unnecessary."
Although Snoddy could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail, Helvin could not bear the thought of one of his beloved police officers spending so much as a minute behind bars. "He doesn't deserve to go to jail," he caroled according to the Daily News-Record.
This is by no means the first time that Helvin has shortchanged both cats and their owners. For example, on August 22, 2006 he inexcusably let off used car dealer George A. Seymour Jr. of the affluent Bentivar subdivision outside of Charlottesville with a minuscule ten-day jail sentence plus an unspecified amount of community service for murdering Klaus Wintersteigner's cat, Carmen, with a rifle. Even with that love tap on the wrists it is far from certain that Seymour ever spent so much as a minute in the can. (See Cat Defender post of June 22, 2006 entitled "Used Car Dealer in Virginia Murders Sweet Three-Year-Old Cat Named Carmen with a Rifle Shot to the Neck.")
His prejudice against animals is by no means limited to cats because on March 19th of this year he postponed ruling on twenty-eight counts of animal cruelty that had been lodged against seventy-one-year-old David Tracy Davis and his sixty-one-year-old wife, Joyce, of 142 Rooster Ridge Road in the Roseland section of Nelson County concerning their neglect and mistreatment of fifty dogs, two pigs, eleven chickens, nine ducks, one rabbit, two horses, and numerous guinea hens. He did not waste any time, however, in nailing Davis for making and selling moonshine as well as possessing illegal firearms.
In Helvin's view of the law, only moonshine and firearms are worthy of his time; he could care less about the fate of animals. (See Nelson County Times, March 20, 2012, "Moonshine, Firearms Charges Certified Against Nelson County Man.")
Based upon his past record and admitted prejudice in favor of cops, Helvin had about as much business trying Snoddy as the man in the moon. It is difficult enough under normal circumstances to convince courts to hold rogue police officers accountable but what occurred in Helvin's kangaroo court was nothing short of a travesty of justice.
The performance of prosecuting attorney Cristabel Elizabeth Opp was every bit as disgraceful as Helvin's jaundiced jurisprudence. "The cat didn't need to die that way. It wasn't instantaneously," she declared during her opening remarks.
After having for the sake of appearances admitted that much, she immediately switched sides and proceeded to defend Snoddy on the grounds that he did not act maliciously but rather inappropriately. C'est-à-dire, as far as she is concerned a police officer may take the law into his own hands and kill cats with impunity so long as he does it quickly and without malice. The only drama that is therefore left in Snoddy's appeal concerns whether Opp even will so much as bother to show up and, if she does, what role she will elect to play.
Quite obviously, Snoddy's trial was a carefully choreographed theatrical production designed to hoodwink the public into believing that a measure of justice had been meted out to a rogue police officer. The exact same thing occurred in München back in August when Ernst Bernhard K. escaped justice and again in December when Nico Dauphiné did likewise in Washington. (See Cat Defender posts of August 17, 2011 and January 6, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Ernst K. Walks Away Smelling Like a Rose as Both the Prosecutor and Judge Turn His Trial for Killing Rocco into a Lovefest for a Sadistic Cat Killer" and "Nico Dauphiné Is Let Off with an Insultingly Lenient $100 Fine in a Show Trial That Was Fixed from the Very Beginning.")
As is the norm with all cops, Snoddy lied his ugly head off once he took the witness stand. In particular, he claims to only have struck the cat four times with his collapsible night stick although he does admit to banging it on the sidewalk six times in order to get it to close. Even if against all odds he should be telling a facsimile of the truth, that still leaves ten thumps that Meadows overheard to be explained.
"If it was fifteen to twenty blows, the cat's head would have been flattened," Holloran declared in his closing remarks according to the March 9th account in the Daily News-Record. That is pure baloney because even cats run down by motorists do not always suffer skull fractures; their brains, eyeballs, and entrails often are squeezed out like toothpaste from a tube but their craniums remain intact.
A necropsy possibly could have resolved this issue but there is not anything in the record to even suggest that one was performed. Every bit as disturbing, the disposition of the cat's remains have not been disclosed. It nevertheless seems highly unlikely that they received anything remotely resembling a proper burial.
There can be no doubt however that Snoddy beat the defenseless cat to a bloody pulp and that its last moments on this earth were nothing short of pure hell. Furthermore, based upon the damage done to Meadows' townhouse, he most likely swung the cat against the side of it also.
To top it all off, the smooth-tongued Holloran delved into his bag of dirty and dishonest tricks and pulled out the same tall tale that ornithologists, wildlife biologists, and other ailurophobes long have improvised in order to excuse their horrendous crimes. "It's a charge that should never have been brought," he gassed to the Daily News-Record in the March 9th article cited supra. "(He) owns two cats. He's a cat-lover." (See photo of him on the right further down the page.)
While it is conceivable that other members of his family might own cats, Snoddy is the antithesis of an ailurophile. Absolutely no one with so much as an ounce of respect for an injured cat would savagely bludgeon it to death in the manner that Snoddy did to this cat. To pretend otherwise is to turn all truth and logic on their heads.
Like all cops, Snoddy is an accomplished liar, thespian, and criminal. That is what he and his fellow officers are taught every day in the police academies and once hired and out on the street they pick up additional pointers on how to subvert the law from their jaded colleagues.
Like the respectable Dr. Henry Jekyll, Snoddy may tolerate the presence of cats at home but, as his behavior on Settlers Lane has vividly demonstrated, when no one is watching he is a real-life Edward Hyde. Besides, any halfway legitimate judge weighs the facts and in turn applies the law instead of, like Helvin, wallowing in a cesspool of lies and prejudice.
Since more than a dozen of his fellow officers were in the gallery cheering him on, the only logical conclusion to be drawn from such a show of support is that anti-feline sentiment must be the norm within the HPD. Based upon their total abdication of duty, the same holds true for Helvin and Opp.
"Given Snoddy's conviction of animal cruelty in the fatal beating of a defenseless animal, we are deeply disappointed with the minimal sentence he received," Becky Robinson of Alley Cat Allies said in a Market Watch press release dated March 13th. (See "Alley Cat Allies Praises Virginia Authorities for Guilty Verdict in Cat Beating Death; Calls for Officer's Dismissal.") "To retain someone found guilty of a violent crime against an animal as an officer of public safety is dangerous for the community."
Although correct, she is whistling through a graveyard. Given all the time and money that the HPD, City Council, Helvin, and Opp have invested in sparing Snoddy any jail time they are not about to fire him. The official word from Mary-Hope Vass of HPD is that a decision on his job will be made at some time in the future, presumably long after the public furor has died down and few individuals any longer care one way or the other. The American public, after all, has the attention span of a butterfly pollinating flowers.
At last report, he still was on administrative leave and, presumably, drawing his customary fat welfare check and lucrative health and retirement benefits. More than likely, the HPD also is footing the bill for his legal team.
Taking bribes, breaking the law, and plundering the public till for obscene amounts of termination payments for unused vacation time, sick days, compensatory time, and other accrued holidays is the norm in all police departments but in Nassau County on Long Island Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, Chief of Patrol John Hunter, and Detective Sergeant Alan Sharpe are making out like Jesse James. (See New York Post, March 16, 2012, "Cashing Out of the Force.")
Others, such as narcotics cop Joseph Sulpizo of the Philadelphia Police, repeatedly have stolen money from drug dealers that they should have been arresting and yet, amazingly, are still on the job. (See Philadelphia Daily News, February 27, 2012, "Fired Cop Is Back.")
Whenever there is not either a cat to kill or money to steal cops, such as Michael Pena of the New York Police Department and Keith Corley of the Philadelphia Police, bide their time sexually assaulting women. (See New York Post, March 16, 2012, "Twisted 'No Rape' Tactic" and The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 16, 2012, "Officer Admits to Sex on Duty.")
The idea of even a halfway honest cop is a figment of Helvin's imagination; every one of them is rotten to the core and as such their words and deeds must be backed up by hard evidence. For him to simply accept their testimony at face value is tantamount to deciding guilt and innocence based upon such totally irrelevant factors as appearance, skin color, ethnic identity, social standing, and income. He therefore should be investigated by the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in Washington.
Admittedly, some officers are capable of occasionally acting decently and even honorably if left to their own devices, but the fact that they cover up for all the bad apples that they work with makes them every bit as corrupt. After all, cops take an oath to uphold the law and implied in that is the often unpleasant task of exposing and arresting their fellow officers whenever they break the law.
As for Meadows, the cat's murder left him so traumatized that he was forced to miss an unspecified amount of work. Plus, he was forced to invest considerable time and expense going to court and meeting with the media. At last report, the damage that Snoddy inflicted upon his townhouse had not been repaired and it is highly unlikely that the HPD ever will make good on that.
"I'm back working now. It doesn't really affect me as much as it did," he told WHSV-TV on January 13th. (See "Witness of Alleged Cat Beating Feels Relieved After Officer Is Charged.") "For the first week or two afterwards, I guess I was pretty much a wreck at that point."
He has not, however, been able to put the terrible ordeal behind him just yet. "I still have my moments," he added to WHSV-TV in the January 13th article cited supra. "The memory is never gonna go away, but it (the indictment) sorta brings a little closure to it."
In choosing to stand up for this voiceless and defenseless murder victim, Meadows acted not only honorably but courageously. He is precisely the type of individual that this morally deprived society so desperately needs.
Nevertheless, his bravery has exposed him and left him vulnerable and, sooner or later, the HPD and its supporters are bound to retaliate. He therefore had better be careful so as not to so much as spit in the street.
Looking on the positive side, this marked the first time in recent memory that a cop who had killed a cat had been either publicly identified or prosecuted. For example, the identities of the cold-blooded murderers of Elmo, Tobey, and Haze remain to this very day protected by a veil of secrecy and official lawlessness. (See Cat Defender posts of March 31, 2008, September 16, 2009, and September 22, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Cecil, Pennsylvania, Police Officer Summarily Executes Family's Beloved Ten-Year-Old Persian, Elmo," "Acting Solely Upon the Lies of a Cat-Hater, Raymore Police Pump Two Shotgun Blasts into the Head of Nineteen-Year-Old Declawed and Deaf Tobey," and "Neanderthaloid Politicians in Lebanon, Ohio, Wholeheartedly Sanction the Illegal and Cold-Blooded Murder of Haze by a Trigger-Happy Cop.")
Additionally, there is not anything in the record to suggest that either the HPD or any animal protection group in Harrisonburg has lifted so much as a finger in order to bring the hit-and-run motorist to justice. That seems to be par for the course in that none of them acted back in July of 2010 when an eight-week-old kitten named Harrison was found with his ears removed. (See Cat Defender post of September 2, 2010 entitled "Only Eight-Weeks-Old, Harrison Is Maimed for Life When an Assailant Cuts Off Both of His Ears with a Pair of Scissors.")
It would be a gross oversimplification to assume that the abuse and murder of cats by Virginians is limited to Harrisonburg. In addition to Carmen, the brutal murder of Luke as well as the horrific injuries suffered by Little Man demonstrate that feline abuse is widespread all across the state. (See Cat Defender posts of January 17, 2006 and November 8, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Loony Virginia Judge Lets Career Criminal Go Free After He Stomps to Death a Fourteen-Year-Old Arthritic Cat" and "After Having Had His Throat and Leg Ripped Open in a Savage Assault, Little Man Needs the Public's Financial Support.")
Since jurists in Virginia are so unwilling to punish ordinary cat abusers, it is a foregone conclusion that they are not about to take action against those that are affluent and well-connected. (See Cat Defender posts of May 14, 2009, August 21, 2008, and January 19, 2006 entitled, respectively, "Virginia Is for Cat Killers, Not Lovers, Now That Its Legal Establishment Has Sanctioned Donald Curtis Hunt's Drowning of Five Kittens," "Justice Denied: Exterminator Who Gassed Three Cats at the Behest of Fox-35 in Richmond Gets Off with a Minuscule Fine," and "Public Outcry Forces Army Navy Country Club to Scrap Plans to Evict and Exterminate Long-Term Resident Felines.")
The state also is known as a safe haven for hoarders. (See Cat Defender posts of August 11, 2005 and December 23, 2005 entitled, respectively, "Virginia Woman Caught Hoarding 105 Cats; Montana Woman Discovered with 74 Cats and 14 Dogs" and "Virginia Cat Hoarder Who Killed 221 Cats and Kept Another 354 in Abominable Conditions Gets Off with $500 Fine.")
Finally, it hardly could be a coincidence that PETA chose Norfolk as the location of its notorious extermination factory. Birds of a feather, after all, do flock together. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007, February 9, 2007, and October 7, 2011 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in North Carolina Courtroom," "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs," and "PETA Traps and Kills a Cat and Then Shamelessly Goes Online in Order to Brag About Its Criminal and Foul Deed.")
The record is abundantly clear: Virginians are hostile toward cats. Not only do the authorities steadfastly refuse to seriously investigate cases of animal cruelty but the courts tend to always side with the abusers. All of that combines to make cat killers, PETA, and Virginia perfect together.
By necessity, the care, protection, and well-being of cats has become purely a private matter. The police never should be summoned under any circumstances and pretty much the same advice applies to most animal welfare groups as well. That is because none of them can be trusted to respect feline life and to take morally correct action.
If an individual is either unwilling or unable to help a cat in distress, it is best to let it be. Perhaps it will be able, in time, to either recover on its own or someone else will happen along who is able to help it. At the very least, it should be allowed to die on its own. Anything is preferable to allowing the cops, shelters, Animal Control, and PETA to get their murderous hands on any cat.
Photos: WHSV-TV (Meadows and damaged townhouse), City of Harrisonburg (Degner), and Law Offices of John C. Holloran (Holloran).