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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Friday, September 07, 2012

Peripatetic Helvin Rides to the Rescue of Harrisonburg Police Sergeant Russell Metcalf and in Doing So Puts the Judicial Stamp of Approval on His Gunning Down of Sadie


"I don't think he should be a police officer or carry a gun."
-- Bryan Ware

Officers of the Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD) now can kill dogs as well as cats without fear of ever being punished by judges. That was the message that resonated loud and clear from Rockingham County General District Court on August 23rd when fifty-year-old Sergeant Russell Metcalf was let off scot-free for gunning down an eight-month-old border collie-mix named Sadie on April 3rd.

Although presiding judge Steven Helvin did find him guilty of one charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty and one count of recklessly discharging a firearm, he turned around and just as quickly negated even that by meting out to him a sixty-day suspended jail sentence and a proscription against owning any domestic animals for six months.

It is highly unlikely that the latter mandate is going to cost Metcalf any sleepless nights because he is anything but a lover of animals. He is not destined to feel any pain in the wallet either because he was not fined so much as a solitary sou. Additionally, there is absolutely nothing in the record to even remotely suggest that he was ordered to pay any court costs.

The only expense that he might be forced to pay would be his attorney's fee since he was off-duty at the time of the shooting but even that is questionable. After all, the HPD takes real good care of its officers no matter what crimes they commit.

On September 6th, Metcalf's attorney filed an appeal in Rockingham County Circuit Court and the case is scheduled to be heard at 9 a.m. on September 10th. Previously convicted cops attempting to clear their names always receive prompt service from Virginia's ever obliging judicial system. During the meantime, he remains on desk duty where he was relegated following his arrest on May 18th.

As far as his future as a cop is concerned, all that the HPD is willing to admit is that it is conducting yet still another of its secretive internal investigations. Even bigmouthed Chief of Police Stephen Monticelli has been uncharacteristically silent so far.

After Officer Jonathan N. Snoddy had his earlier conviction for savagely bludgeoning to death an injured cat reversed on appeal July 30th, Monticelli was positively bubbling over in his effusive praise of him. More than likely he is biding his time until Metcalf's conviction is thrown out by either an obliging judge or prosecutor on September 10th before doing likewise for him. (See Cat Defender posts of August 23, 2012, April 26, 2012, and March 22, 2012 entitled, respectively, "Cat-Killing Cop Jonathan N. Snoddy Struts Out of Court as Free as a Bird Thanks to a Carefully Choreographed Charade Concocted by Virginia's Despicable and Dishonest Legal System," "Virginia's Disreputable Legal and Political Establishment Is All Set to Acquit Jonathan N. Snoddy at His Retrial for Brutally Beating to Death an Injured Cat," and "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.")

The particulars of this disturbing case are not only gruesome but they additionally furnish a rare glimpse into the types of irreparably flawed personalities that this society entrusts to carry guns and to supposedly enforce the laws. It also should prompt any thinking person to reconsider just exactly who are the bad guys.

On the day of the incident Metcalf was out riding his bicycle on Robinson Road in the Clover Hill section of town when Sadie ran out into the road. According to the testimony of two eyewitnesses, Metcalf turned on her and shot her in the head from a range of approximately five feet. The witnesses further have stated that he killed her without provocation because she was not threatening him in any way.

After he shot Sadie, Metcalf did a runner but was chased down by an unidentified neighbor in his truck. "I thought he (sic) was going to bite me," Metcalf told the man who then, inexplicably, allowed him to continue on his way without obtaining either his name and address or, apparently, even telephoning the police.

For his part, Metcalf never reported the shooting even after it was picked up by the local media. Every bit as importantly, if the gun that he used was his service revolver and that usually is sufficient cause in order to get a cop fired from a legitimate police force.
Amanda M. Wiseley

Exactly how much the HPD knew and what, if anything, that it did in order to apprehend Sadie's murderer never has been publicly clarified. Under normal circumstances, this case would have fallen within its jurisdiction but, for undisclosed reasons, the investigation was turned over to the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office (RCSO).

That inquiry picked up momentum when one of the eyewitnesses, most likely the man who ran Metcalf to ground, picked out his ugly mug from a photographic display. Press reports have not broached the subject but if a necropsy was performed on Sadie it is likely that pathologists were able to recover the bullet that killed her. They in turn may have been able to then determine that the projectile was fired from a weapon issued to an HPD officer and possibly even Metcalf himself.

All of this routine police work could have been expeditiously performed by the HPD but, as it has demonstrated in the past, it is totally unwilling to investigate crimes committed by its officers. In Snoddy's case, for example, the department stonewalled the inquiry until the Virginia State Police were forced to intervene and arrest him.

Armed with at least one eyewitness's positive identification of him, Doug Miller of the RCSO traveled to Metcalf's residence in nearby Dayton on May 1st in order to interview him. "I can't help you there," the suspect reportedly responded when he was asked about the shooting.

After Miller informed him that he had been identified as the murderer, Metcalf quickly realized that the game was up and reluctantly owned up to his cowardly and heinous crime. As difficult as it may be to believe, even that was insufficient in order to prompt the RCSO to arrest him.

That took the appointment of special prosecutor Amanda McDonald Wiseley of Shenandoah County by an unidentified judge sitting on either Rockingham County General District Court or the Circuit Court. Even then it took her until May 18th to finally make up her mind that a crime indeed had been committed. (See Cat Defender post of July 18, 2012 entitled "The Bloodthirsty and Lawless Harrisonburg Police Follow Up Their Bludgeoning to Death of an Injured Cat by Gunning Down a Collie Named Sadie.")

That scenario differs only slightly from the one concocted earlier this year by Virginia's legal establishment in order to excuse Snoddy's horrendous crime. At his first trial in District Court on March 8th he was prosecuted with all the ferocity of a doting parent by Cristable Opp of the county prosecutor's office.

For his appeal, the Virginia State Bar intervened and ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor and Judge James V. Lane of the Circuit Court appointed Kenneth Lee Alger III of Page County to handle that case. Alger, however, had other ideas and categorically refused to do his job and as a consequence Snoddy walked out of court uncontested as a free man on July 30th.

Once he finally took the stand in his defense Metcalf, not unexpectedly, claimed that he had killed Sadie in self-defense. "They (Sadie and another unidentified dog) both seemed to be running full speed right at me," he told the court according to the account of the proceedings rendered in the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg on August 24th. (See "Officer Guilty of Animal Cruelty.") "He (sic) was a fraction of a second from my right leg."

Even that account of what transpired is flatly contradicted by at least two eyewitnesses. Specifically, they both testified under oath that the second dog never left its yard. They surely must be telling the truth because if it had gotten anywhere near trigger-happy Metcalf it likely would have suffered the same cruel fate as Sadie.

Metcalf furthermore testified that he would have used pepper spray on Sadie but was unable to get the canister out of his pocket. Without getting into the advisability of using pepper spray on a dog, it might be recalled that Snoddy testified at his first trial that it took him innumerable attempts, somewhere between sixteen and nineteen, in order to close the collapsible night stick that he used in order to beat the stuffing out of the injured cat.

In all likelihood both officers simply are outrageous liars and not very good ones at that in spite of all the instruction that they have received in the art of prevarication and shading of the truth from the police academies that they have attended. Even if against all odds they should be relating a semblance of the truth, their gross ineptitude in such mundane matters does not speak highly of the quality of training that they have received from the HPD.

Metcalf's case also is weakened by the simple fact that this is not the first time that he has been in trouble with the law. For instance, on February 9, 2002 he punched Griffin Strother Jr. in the face while making a routine arrest of one of his companions.

The Lord of Many Courtrooms, Steven Helvin

Strother in turn sued him in federal court but lost in 2003. (See popehat.com, May 26, 2012, "Where Are They Now? Russell Metcalf Edition.")

During his closing arguments Metcalf's attorney, Aaron Cook, made an impassioned and, ultimately successful, appeal for his client's innocence. "Does a man have to have a chunk taken out of him before he does something?" he asked rhetorically according to the account in the Daily News- Record. "I hope the answer from this court is no. It's certainly not a crime what he did."

Sadie's owner, forty-six-year-old Bryan Ware, lamely attempted to put a positive spin on a disastrous outcome. "It was such a senseless act," he told the Daily News-Record in the article cited supra. "We feel like we got some justice for Sadie."

Sadly, the only thing that he has received from the HPD, RCSO, Wiseley, and Helvin is a snow job. Sadie was brutally murdered before her life had much even begun and, worst of all, she is not coming back.

The only recourse left open to Ware would be a civil suit against Metcalf and the HPD. Such an undertaking would be a long and expensive slog but hopefully he will be willing to go at least one more mile for her sake.

By contrast, the cat bludgeoned to death by Snoddy did not have a guardian either to seek justice for it or even to bury its remains. That is one more reason why Ware should not let his matter die. One way or another, the HPD should be held accountable for both killings.

"It doesn't give you the right to shoot a dog just because it's in the road," Wiseley told the court according to the Daily News-Record. "He (Metcalf) was not in any physical danger."

Although she has made all the correct public pronouncements, there is considerable reason to suspect her sincerity. Press reports do not delve into the matter but it does not appear that she prosecuted the case very vigorously. In particular, she should have insisted upon jail time and a substantial fine for Metcalf.

Much more importantly, since Helvin has a long history of not only failing to punish animal abusers but is a self-professed lover of cops, she should have demanded from the very start that another jurist be assigned to try the case. Since there are not any secrets in legal circles, her failure to have done so makes it appear that she was in on the fix right from the outset to allow Metcalf to escape justice.

For example, during Snoddy's first trial he shouted his prejudices loud and clear from the bench for one and all to hear. "It is difficult for a judge to second-guess law enforcement," he declared before letting Snoddy off with a measly $50 fine. "He (Snoddy) doesn't deserve to go to jail."

Earlier on August 22, 2006, he let off used car dealer George A. Seymour Jr. of the affluent Bentivar subdivision outside of Charlottesville with an inconsequential ten-day jail sentence and an unspecified amount of community service for shooting and killing Klaus Wintersteigner's cat, Carmen. It is by no means certain, however, that Seymour spent either any time incarcerated or fulfilled the community service requirement. (See Cat Defender post of June 22, 2006 entitled "Used Car Dealer in Virginia Murders Sweet Three-Year-Old Cat Named Carmen with Rifle Shot to the Neck.")

The Moonshiner and His Wife Following Their Arrests

On May 7th of this year and while sitting on the bench in Nelson County General District Court in Lovington, Helvin convicted seventy-one-year-old David Tracy Davis of 142 Rooster Ridge Road in Roseland of fourteen counts of animal cruelty and his sixty-one-year-old wife, Joyce, of fifteen additional such charges. Twenty-eight of them involved dogs while the remaining charge concerned an abused pig.

Helvin sentenced them to sixty days in jail on each charge and banned them from owning any domestic animals for two years. As he did with Metcalf, he then turned around and suspended all of the jail time. So, in the end, the only thing that their abhorrent crimes cost them was $23 in court costs.

All totaled, fifty dogs, two pigs, eleven chickens, nine ducks, one rabbit, two horses, and numerous guinea hens were discovered at the Davis's residence during a November 21, 2011 raid conducted by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the United States Department of Agriculture, and nine additional state and federal agencies. Both Mark Scott, an undercover agent with the ABC, and veterinarian Rachel Touroo later testified in court that the animals were malnourished and dehydrated.

During his visits to the residence, Scott saw a dead puppy, dogs fighting over deer carcasses, feces all over the place, dogs that were lying motionless, and others than were experiencing breathing difficulties. After examining the animals, Touroo concluded that many of them were suffering from, inter alia, plaque, missing teeth, gingivitis, rapid heart rates, infections, fevers, injured legs, blindness, and tumors.

The only shelters provided for the dogs consisted of fifty-gallon plastic barrels. (See The Nelson County Times, March 20, 2012, "Moonshine, Firearms Charges Certified Against Nelson County Man.")

In deciding to let the Davises get away scot-free with their wholesale neglect and abuse of these animals, Helvin deliberately chose to ignore the eyewitness testimonies of Scott and Touroo in favor of that of Nelson County Animal Control Officer Sandy Solar who averred that not only were the dogs' shelters adequate but that she had seen between seven-hundred and one-thousand pound bags of dog food lying in a storage shed. As Helvin knows only too well, the presence of food on the premises and feeding animals are two entirely different matters.

For example, when the police raided the Cats With No Name sanctuary at 33 Walmer Lane in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, in January of 2010 they, too, found a storage shed chock-full of cat food. They also found one-hundred-twenty-eight cats without food, water, heat, litter boxes, and veterinary care. At least eighty of them already either were dead or later were killed off by the authorities.

The operators of the sanctuary, Virginia Kresge Justiniano and Andy J. Oxenrider, were selling the cat food that had been donated to them in order to purchase drugs. Much like the Davises, they later were let off  with probation, minuscule fines, restitution, and community service by a pair of mindless Pennsylvania judges. (See Cat Defender post of May 10, 2010 entitled "Lunatic Rulings in Cats With No Name Cruelty Cases Proves Once Again That Pennsylvania Is a Safe Haven for Cat Killers and Junkies.")

"It's not always a clear case (of abuse), but it was clear to me that this was neglect," Helvin stated in his opinion according to the report of the proceedings contained in The Nelson County Times on May 9th. (See "Roseland Couple Sentenced for Animal Cruelty.") "The animal doesn't distinguish what is intentional and what is neglect. However, the law does and this is more of a neglect case."

Prosecuting attorney Anthony Martin called attention to the dogs' numerous infections as well as Scott's testimony that he not only had seen Davis kick a dog but that he had confessed to him that a good dog does not need to be fed. "There's no excuse for these animals to have softball-sized tumors or infections running out their noses," he argued according to The Nelson County Times.

Although Martin did ask the court to send both defendants to jail, his sincerity in doing so is called into question by his allowing Helvin to hear the case in the first place. Like Wiseley, he knew well beforehand that Helvin does not punish animal abusers and that alone makes his arguments sound disingenuous.
Angelo M. Stango

Just as he cried a river after fining Snoddy a paltry $50 for his heinous crime, Helvin likewise was all broken up about banning the Davises from owning any domestic animals for two years. "It was very difficult," he said of the order according to May 9th edition of The Nelson County Times.

The farcical nature of Helvin's opinion is brought into sharper focus by the fact that the elder Davis was not only abusing domestic animals but wildlife as well. For instance, he was killing black bears for their gallbladders and redtailed hawks for their talons. He additionally was raising and selling fighting cocks as well as distributing marijuana.

All of that led to his arrest by the feds and subsequent guilty pleas on June 18th. For killing black bears he is eligible for five years in jail and a $20,000 fine while killing hawks could cost him six-months in jail and a $15,000 fine. The cockfighting charge is worth up to five years in the slammer and a $250,000 fine while the pot charge could land him in jail for a year and cost him up to $100,000. He, of course, will not receive anything even remotely close to the maximum sentence on any of the charges but he possibly could end up spending at least some time in jail and his wallet is almost certain to take a substantial dent.

"With today's guilty plea, Mr. Davis admitted to his participation in a crime spree that included trafficking in poached animal parts, breeding and selling fighting birds, and the distribution of illegal drugs," United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Timothy J. Heaphy said in a June 18th press release. (See "Nelson County Man Pleads Guilty to Animal Fighting, Bear Poaching, Wildlife, and Marijuana Offenses.") "The United States Department of Justice will continue to do whatever possible to protect our natural resources like wild animals. When people illegally kill animals to obtain and sell parts or raise fighting animals, we will pursue them vigorously."

That certainly is refreshing to hear after listening to Helvin and his cronies perform legal and verbal somersaults in order to shield the guilty from punishment. The proof, as always, is in the pudding and for there to be any substance to Heaphy's  rhetoric Davis and others like him must be incarcerated.

Virginia's attorney general and announced Republican candidate for governor in 2013, Kenneth Thomas Cuccinelli, was quick to endorse Heaphy's sentiments. "Not only was Mr. Davis's behavior illegal and dangerous, it also was inhumane and cruel," he stated in the same press release cited supra. "He profited from the exploitation of poached game and illegal animals, and left a tragic mark on one of the most beautiful parts of the commonwealth."

That is all well and good as far as it goes but if Cuccinelli really cared about animals he would use the power of his office in order to discipline inveterate rotters like Helvin, Alger, Lane, and the remainder of their colleagues who steadfastly refuse to take animal cruelty seriously. Also, his vociferous opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions gives a hollow ring to his comments about protecting Mother Earth.

In between his appearances in Nelson County District Court and federal court, Davis was in Nelson County Circuit Court on May 8th where he pled guilty to four charges of making and selling moonshine and possessing illegal firearms. For those infractions he was sentenced to five years in jail but the unidentified presiding judge suspended all of that except for ninety days which Davis was scheduled to have begun serving on May 24th.

He additionally was placed on probation for ten years and ordered to pay court costs totaling $1,717. (See The Nelson County Times, May 16, 2012, "Roseland Man Pleads Guilty.")

Since Davis freely admitted to undercover agent Scott that he had been brewing and selling moonshine ever since he was fourteen-years-old, it is a good bet that he has been systematically abusing and killing companion animals, livestock, and wildlife for at least that long. Under such circumstances it is simply stupefying that Helvin would not punish him.

The only positive thing that can be said about his jurisprudence is that in steadfastly refusing to punish cops and civilians alike he at least is consistent. Nevertheless, he is consistently on the wrong end of the law.

NYPD Cop Guns Down Star as Leah Stankiewics Writhes in Pain

After sitting on the bench of Albemarle General District Court in Charlottesville for twenty-one years, Helvin supposedly retired in 2001 so that he could spend more time fishing in the Florida Keys and listening to Jimmy Buffet on his stereo. If he had remained true to his original intentions all animals in Virginia would be far better off today, but the additional shekels on top of his generous pension obviously proved to be too much of a sweetheart deal for a greedy bugger like him to forgo. (See The Hook of Charlottesville, December 5, 2002, "Judge This: Hizzoner Helvin's Gone Fishing.")

It would be deleterious enough if Helvin were an isolated case but, regrettably, his utter disdain for animals and their inalienable rights is pretty much the norm with jurists throughout Virginia and elsewhere. Furthermore, it is not only cops that they give special considerations to but ex-soldiers as well.

For example on July 20th, V. Thomas Forehand Jr., chief judge of Chesapeake Circuit Court, allowed twenty-seven-year-old ex-Marine Angelo Michael Stango of the 8600 block of Glen Myrtle Avenue in Norfolk to get away with strangling the life out of his black and white cat last October 16th. Specifically, all the punishment that Forehand meted out to him was thirty days in jail, a $2,500 fine, $273 in court costs, and ten years of unsupervised probation.

In dispensing that ridiculously lenient sentence, Forehand said that he was attempting to balance the good that Stango had done while in the marines with his killing of his cat. "I find him guilty of misdemeanor (as opposed to criminal animal cruelty)," he ruled according to the account in The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk on July 21st. (See "Man Gets Thirty Days for Chesapeake Cat Strangling.") "That's not to diminish what he's done."

If ever a ludicrous statement were uttered that would have to be it. To allow this monster to get away with killing a cat simply because he once was a soldier most assuredly not only condones his crime but sends a loud and unmistakable message that feline life is of little value and therefore unworthy of the protection of the courts.

Just as Helvin is madly in love in cops and believes that they can do no wrong, Forehand thinks likewise about soldiers. In reality, both groups of professionals are little more than trained killers and as such are hardly deserving of either the law's forbearance or the public's esteem.

From even so much as a cursory examination of these cases certain patterns are readily discernible. First and foremost, there is the perennial problem of prosecutors who either will not prosecute or, if they do so, it is only half-heartedly.

Secondly, there is the dilemma of judges who will not convict and, on those rare occasions when they do, they adamantly refuse to punish. Despite the well-establishment fact that judges are not any more intelligent, impartial, honest, and just than most ordinary citizens, some of them egomaniacally believe that their jaundiced jurisprudence should be beyond all reproach and criticism.

"What is not appropriate or helpful, however, are personal, ad hominen attacks that suggest that judges are biased, uninformed or unsuited for the bench," Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, scribbled in a thoroughly self-serving piece of drivel for the print edition of the New York Daily News on July 17th. (See "Stop Attacking New York Judges.") "These attacks are deeply unfair, both to the individual judges involved and the judiciary as an institution."

All of that would have been dishonest and outrageous enough but he did not stop there but went on to condemn all criticism of government. "Attacks of this nature, whether directed at the judiciary or any public institution, threaten the very credibility of government as a whole. When that happens, we all lose."

Chewie with Ronald and Giselle Estevez

That is pure baloney! Au contraire, democracy, equality under law, free expression, and the rights of free men everywhere cease to exist when citizens choose to remain silent, tolerate corruption and, above all, allow elected and appointed officials, such as Lippman, to both abuse their powers and to talk sottise.

Besides as Lippman knows only too well but never would publicly admit, the law primarily reflects the interests and biases of those individuals and groups that comprise the establishment. "We are a constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is," Charles Evans Hughes, who later was destined to become chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, said May 3, 1907 during a speech in Elmira, New York.

Judges accordingly should be evaluated on the basis of their sense of justice, integrity, wisdom, and foresight. Any halfway decent jurist is more than willing to play by those rules and, unlike Lippmann, does not believe that he is latter-day Napoleon.

Thirdly, those groups whose job it is to protect the rights of animals limit their involvement to declarations of moral outrage and offers of minuscule reward money for information leading to the arrests of abusers. Worst still,  they quite often assist abusers in evading justice.

Internal police investigations of officers accused of abusing and killing animals, outside inquiries conducted by sister law enforcement agencies, the appointment of special prosecutors, and the intervention of state bar associations are little more than superficial public relations ploys designed to hoodwink the public into believing that something serious is being done in order to combat animal cruelty. To sum it all up, the entire legal apparatchik is heavily weighted toward the protection of abusers and the perpetuation of a status quo where it is open season year in and year out on all animals.

Since legal precedent is so very important to both judges and prosecutors alike, the most probable outcome of Metcalf's appeal is that he, like Snoddy, will be completely exonerated and returned to active duty with the HPD. The only suspense surrounds who will prosecute. Wiseley could be called upon again in order to serve as the legal establishment's designated flunky or the Virginia State Bar very well could intervene and appoint another bum like Alger in order to purposefully scuttle the entire affair.

Even if against all odds Metcalf should lose in Circuit Court, it is a sure thing that the HPD will allow him to retire with a full pension. After all, he has been with the department for twelve years and recently underwent heart surgery.

Ware, however, does not have a doubt in his mind as to what should be done with him. "I don't think he should be a police officer or carry a gun," he told the Daily News-Record in the article cited supra.

His neighbors are to be commended not only for tracking down Metcalf but for their willingness to testify against him in court. The same most definitely cannot be said for local humane groups who steadfastly have refused to rally to Sadie's cause. Worst still, they more than likely will assist Metcalf in evading justice by permitting him to perform make-believe voluntary work at one of their shelters, just like the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA did for Snoddy earlier this year.

It is a sad indictment of the law enforcement community, but Metcalf's murder of Sadie was far from being an isolated incident. For instance, on August 13th a homeless immigrant by the name of Leah Stankiewicz went into an epileptic seizure at the corner of Second Avenue and East Fourteenth Street in Manhattan.

In keeping with their time-honored tradition of physically abusing the poor, officers of the New York Police Department (NYPD) arrived on the scene and began kicking him. In an effort to defend her owner, a pit bull named Star intervened and was rewarded for her loyalty and valor with a bullet in the left eye.

"Instead of calling the ambulance, they (the policemen), started kicking him (Stankiewicz)," area resident Aida Feliciano told the print edition of the New York Daily News on August 14th. (See "Shot Trying to Save His Master.") "The dog was just defending his owner, and the cops shot it in the head," delicatessen clerk Ines Pauling added.

NYPD Cops Kill Darrius H. Kennedy in Crowded Times Square

At first it was reported that Star had died but, miraculously, she is still alive. (See New York Daily News, August 26, 2012, "Dog Shot in Head by NYPD Officer in East Village Making Speedy Recovery: Official.")

Her prognosis has not been disclosed but it is likely that she has lost her left eye. Also, she recently was  handed over to the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and apparently will not be reunited with Stankiewicz.

The truly important thing, however, is that she apparently is going to live and for that she can thank dog lovers and others for donating more than $10,000 toward her care. Stankiewicz was taken to Bellevue Hospital and also is still alive but other than that little is known about either his condition or prospects.

It would be comforting to believe that in a city as large and as wealthy as New York that someone would be willing to provide him and Star with either an apartment or a house where they would have an opportunity in order to rebuild their shattered lives, but that is wishful thinking. In the land of the dollar bill, however, not having money is tantamount to a capital offense and beating up on the powerless is every bit as American as apple pie.

At the very least, some lawyer should make either himself or herself useful for a change by doing a little pro bono work and bringing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the NYPD for kicking Stankiewicz and, above all, gunning down Star. While it is perhaps too much to ask that Americans have much in the way of sympathy for the poor and dogs, nevertheless the police should not be allowed under any circumstances to either abuse or harm them in any manner whatsoever.

In October of 2010, narcotics agents of the NYPD stormed the third-floor Bronx apartment of Ronald and Giselle Estevez in a botched drug raid. When the couple's five-year-old, seven-pound miniature Doberman-Pomerian-mix Chewie had the temerity to bark at one of them he hit him so hard that he was sent sprawling four feet across the room and out a window.

Luckily, Chewie's twenty-five-foot descent was broken by grass instead of concrete and he survived with only unspecified injuries to his right paw. To this day, however, he remains so traumatized by the ordeal to even jump down from a couch.

Last autumn, the Estevezes filed a lawsuit against the cops in Bronx Civil Court alleging that they were falsely arrested and that the officers stole $1,200 in cash, a gold bracelet, and assorted documents from them. (See New York Post, October 24, 2011, "Cop Slapped Dog Out Third Story Window: Suit.")

It is not merely dogs that increasingly are finding themselves in the crosshairs of trigger-happy officers of the NYPD but individuals as well. For example, on August 11, they gunned down and killed Darrius H. Kennedy at crowded Times Square. Although he was wielding a knife, no evidence has been produced that he ever used the weapon on anyone.

Later on August 24th, they gunned down fifty-eight-year-old Jeffrey Johnson outside the Empire State Building shortly after he had settled an old score with a former co-worker by shooting him to death. In taking down Johnson, the cops also shot and wounded nine innocent bystanders.

In both cases, neither of the suspects posed an imminent threat to others and therefore could have been trailed at a safe distance by the police to less crowded locations and then, hopefully, apprehended without the use of lethal force. Despite callously endangering the lives of scores of bystanders, Mayor Mike "Dirty Bloomers" Bloomberg has angrily defended the cops involved in both cases. (See New York Daily News, August 29, 2012, "Cop Shot Has Bloom Popping Off.")

Psychologists, sociologists, and others often point out that a causal link exists between cruelty to animals and crimes perpetrated against individuals but they are loath to extend that logic to include members of the establishment, such as cops, politicians, Animal Control officers, shelters, wildlife biologists, ornithologists, and others. What they are so unwilling to admit is that disrespect for life, whether it be animal or human, is in no way ameliorated by either the size of a killer's wallet or his position within society's perverted pecking order.

If the truth dare be told, it is always those who wield power that are by far and away the biggest crooks and killers within any society. Accordingly, the first and foremost duty of any citizen is to make certain that those individuals and groups are held accountable under the law and subservient to the will of the people; anything less can only be labeled as tyranny.

Photos: WCAV-TV of Charlottesville (Sadie), Facebook (Wiseley), Jen Fariello of The Hook (Helvin), WVIR-TV of Charlottesville (David and Joyce Davis), Gothamist (NYPD officer shooting Star), Martin McDermott of the New York Post (Chewie with Ronald and Giselle Estevez), and Daily Mail and the Associated Press (NYPD Officers gunning down Kennedy).