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Did Bear-Bear Die In Vain?

| August 23, 2010, 12:08 PM | 12 Comments
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Several weeks ago, a Siberian husky was gunned down in a dog park by an off-duty police officer with his personal weapon. The community was rightfully outraged and has called for justice on behalf of a dog who could never (and certainly can no longer) speak for itself.  Initially, the Anne Arundel County Police Department closed this case without much fanfare.
Anne Arundel County Executive, John R. Leopold stepped to the plate and demanded that his appointee, County Police Chief James Teare re-open the case and investigate it fully. The case was re-opened and turned over to State’s Attorney Franks Weathersbee. The decision came forth that indeed, the officer, Keith Elgin Shepherd, was to be charged.
Despite the calls for extreme punishment including torture, waterboarding, and the death penalty, the decision was made to charge him with two misdemeanors which could possibly net him 9 months in jail and a $2000 fine.  Yet the outrage continues.
For a moment, let’s take a clear headed look at this. Protesters got the attention of the State’s Attorney who presumably did the investigation (and once the case is done, the records are public, so to NOT do an investigation is political suicide). Most of the media and protesters are not attorneys, judges, cops, or prosecutors. We need to let the process take its course. Most likely, charging him with a felony (possible) would have had less chance of sticking, and hence, a misdemeanor charge was filed.

Are the calls for additional charges and an orchestrated email campaign to the Governor helping or harming the cause?  We saw some of the emails sent to the State’s Attorney and some of them were embarrassing and profane. Is this the type of behavior a fun loving 3 year old Siberian Husky named Bear-Bear would want for his legacy?

When this goes to trial (still no date scheduled) anything can happen. When you fight a traffic ticket, you can be guilty or not. Let the process play out. For the most part, the courts in the US have done an admirable job of keeping the peace for the past 234 years.  Let’s hope he is found guilty and the State’s Attorney does not allow for a plea bargain. Let Keith Shepherd take his legal lumps from the courts.

But, outside of the court of law, know that Keith Elgin Shepherd is being punished–probably more severely than any court.  We are not on his side. What he did was reprehensible. But consider that in his neighborhood, he is likely known as “the cop who killed the dog” and parents are encouraging children to steer clear of this “bad man.”  His future employment, in the only career he has known is in serious jeopardy. If he is able to be employed as a cop, his fellow officers (if they are aware) will not let him forget his actions. Realistically, due to the scope of this story (worldwide),  he will likely be forced to move away and attempt to re-build his life. One has to wonder what his wife and family think? Is he the new black sheep of the family?  And then on top of all this, the Rettaliata’s have a good civil case (especially with a guilty criminal verdict) which will further punish him financially.  When is enough enough?

Protesters are screaming for justice. It is working. Anne Arundel County Executive, John R. Leopold (a former Delegate who is poised to skate into a second term as County Executive) is already calling for more harsh laws in the legislature. It is a start. Again, we can’t change what happened to Bear-Bear, but aren’t the changes in the laws something that Bear-Bear would have wanted? If laws can be changed in his name, perhaps his death will not have been in vain.

Yes, the community is outraged. Yes, it was a horrible event. But, things are on the right track and indeed, there will be justice for Bear-Bear if we let the process take over.

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About the Author - John Frenaye

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for nearly 25 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news–and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009.

John’s background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Sharon says:

    This makes alot of sense. Everyone should read this article!

  2. Michael b says:

    This is more than the killing of an innocent dog. The community had to unite and scream before the authorities did their job. Is there any wonder that they are skeptical of the process?

  3. Becky says:

    It’s a good article…however I dont want the judicial system to think the community has forgotten this story and let this guy walk away from everything.

  4. Damrod says:

    Maybe he would have lived if the cops had let him take his injured dog to the vet immediately instead of making up a false police report and covering for their friend while he lay bleeding for 30 minutes.

  5. Rhonda says:

    Part of what scares me is, if Keith’s life falls apart, and it very possibly is or has, what will happen to his dog? And yes, what will happen to his family? It is a shame that so many have to pay for one bad decision.

  6. Rhonda says:

    And please don’t think I have forgotten about Bear-Bears family….they have paid a heavy price…and continue to do so.

  7. Fred Shubbie says:

    it’s all about gun control. It would seem that if one enters into a dog park, one assumes risk. What risks are to be expected ? Stepping in poop, seeing a dog hump another, and an occassional dog argument with scratches and bites. But would one expect to be within yards of a gun blast ? I do not think that is an expected event .

    in light of this Strict gun control is clearly a good thing.

  8. I do believe that Keith Shephard will pay a price for what he has done, but to think that it will make a big difference in his life is assuming that he is living a “normal” life, and my guess is that this is a man who probably does not have a lot of friends, and if he does, they are like him and some of them might even be patting him on the back for killing Bear Bear. Consideriing that I read that he spent two tours in Iraq and his lawyer was suggesting he was suffering from PTSD, I would wonder if killing Bear Bear was deliberate. He can kill the dog, claim PTSD, file a claim with Veteran’s Affairs and collect tax free money every month that, since it would be service connected, he could still work at a regular job and recieve the compensation. I have a great respect for the court system, but there are plenty of people who will never get justice in this world because they know how to “work that system”. I don’t worry about it as much as some other people since I think everyone gets justice eventually, even if it isn’ t in this world.

  9. James "Jamie" FitzGerald says:

    There has been far too much venom from some quarters. I agree with you on that. However, any charge of animal cruelty that results in the death of said animal needs to be considered a felony. I realize that this would disqualify Sgt. Shepherd from carrying a firearm, and hence force him to find other employment. Tough spit. He abused his 2nd Ammendment rights, and he deprived the Rettaliatas of their 5th and 14th Ammendment rights. He has disgraced the uniform of the US Army, and of law enforcement. I may be a lifetime member of the NRA, but IMHO this particular citizen needs to be disarmed.

  10. Fred Shubbie says:

    animal cruelty ? would it have been cruel to have kicked the offending dog in the head to have stopped the attacking dog ? I think not. the only thing this man did wrong was the use of his firearm. I do not believe for an instance that the gun happy cop wanted to do anything other than protect his own dog from an unwarranted attack. The shooter is a good man the dead dog was unruly ( as dogs are at times) and the cop did something to stop the attacking husky. My only [problem is the use of the gun, personally I would kicked the husky in the jaw if I was unable to retreat safely.

  11. James "Jamie" FitzGerald says:

    Fred, if you dono’t think killing a dog for playing in a park that is specifically designed for dogs to play is cruel, what exactly is your definition? By all accounts – including the cop, if you know how to read dog behavior – indicate that Bear was merely playing with Asia. No one was injured, not a scratch, scape, puncture, or laceration. There was no “attack” or “fight”. And even if there was, uning a gun to break up a dog fight is about as responible as using one to break up a domestic squabble. The cop overreacted, and in so doing, deprived the Rettaliatas of their “property” without anything resembling due process. This is quite simply a violation of their Constitutional rights. If this officer is not able to discriminate between roughhousing and attacking, he does not need to be carrying a gun, or have the authority to dispense his own brand of cowboy justice on animals or people.

  12. Bob Dubbie says:

    Fred hates dogs because his mother, for whose death he is largely responsible, loved them

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