The sheriff’s office of Wilson County, Texas is being defined as “unprofessional,” “unethical,” and “illegal” by the prominent animal rights attorney representing the owner of Toby, the dog killed by a neighbor in Texas last month.
“This is an unfortunate series of events that has led from one small fudging of an unprofessional way of handling his (deputy's) job to snowballing into an enormous unethical and illegal cover-up,” San Antonio attorney Robyn Katz said in response to a Wilson County New newspaper article covering the story with quotes from an official investigator. “The Sheriff's Office is charged to do their job and role--which is investigate and present the file to the DA's Office.”
When Sheriff Joe Tackitt assigned two primary investigators on the case, the Examiner began receiving communication on May 5, 2014 from citizens of Wilson County suggesting the dog killing might not be taken seriously by the Sheriff’s Office or the County District Attorney’s office. The story then grew globally as people from around the world learned of the killing and expressed their anger and concern through social media and online petitions. Toby was rescued in Afghanistan and became a symbol of comfort and happiness for thousands of U.S. soldiers and animal lovers who worked to bring the once starving dog to the loving home in Texas.
Tackitt, the long-time sheriff and a life-long resident of Wilson County, assigned investigators Steve Moore and Richard Nichols to handle the case.
Attorney Katz, who worked as an animal welfare nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., stepped up to help the family of Rachel Ries, who lost their dog by the gunfire of neighbor Michael Coulter on April 12, 2014.
According to the local newspaper, the local sheriff’s investigator is claiming evidence shows that Toby was killed because of self-defense. In the meantime, according to the article, Coulter reportedly hired an attorney and has received harassing calls at his “place of employment.”
“When a case is due to be presented to the Grand Jury, it is of the UTMOST important for the authorities to remain unbiased,” Katz continued. “While it was clear that the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office was biased in the beginning, this circus act of telling the public their ‘legal theory’ on the case is disgusting and shameful--a slap in the face to other law enforcement officials who do their jobs well and ethically.”
Katz was straightforward with her response to the sheriff’s office handling of the killing.
“Absolutely no investigative authority, in a pending case, should be releasing any information or opinions to the public,” explained Katz. “First, they are not attorneys and making legal arguments as an authoritative branch can get them in trouble for the illegal practice of law.”
“Second, knowing a grand jury may see this case, they are aiming to successfully taint every Wilson County resident who sees this article,” Katz clarified. “The Grand Jury should be unbiased, and look at facts.”
“As an officer of the court and former prosecutor myself, I was physically there when Investigator Moore interviewed Rachel, personally sent the necropsy results and pathology report to both Investigator Moore and Prosecutor Audrey Louis, and also have the recorded statement (that the Wilson County Sherriff’s Office took) of one of the witnesses regarding the event,” Katz detailed.
“I am sickened to think, having a wonderful relationship with San Antonio Police Department and the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, that law enforcement would make it a goal to be the jury in this case and divulge absolutely false and deceptive statements to the public.”
“They should, and will, be held responsible for this,” Katz said of the Sheriff’s Office. “Every resident of this county should be scared out of his or her mind that these are the people who are running that county.”
“And you know what,” she asked? “It could very well be someone else as a victim next time.”
“That county makes Texas look like a backwards western movie where the Sheriff is sleeping with the Prosecutor, who is also married to the deputy who took the report, all the while tumbleweed blows through the town,” Katz describe. “Either that, or some sort of a Lifetime Movie.”
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