Parkersburg, WV — Last year, the Free Thought Project broke the story and the video of a courageous mother, Tiffanie Hupp who stepped in front of an officer who was about to shoot her dog.
Randall Hupp, Tiffanie’s father-in-law explained to the Free Thought Project what happened that day,
The trooper approached with gun in hand, grabbed her by the arm and slammed her to the ground. After the troopers realized that they had been filmed, they entered the home illegally without warrant or probable cause and confiscated all digital devices including my 4-year-old grandson’s tablet. We only recently received the devices back and released the video.
The incident began after a neighborhood argument escalated to the point of a man calling the police to prevent further turmoil. The homeowner, Cliff, called the police after his neighbor allegedly threatened him.
Cliff’s dog, which was on a chain, merely barked as the officer walked up to the home. His tail was still wagging, and he seemed to calm down immediately. However, the fact that this dog was on a chain, not growling, nor posing any threat whatsoever, was of no consequence to the state trooper who quickly pulled out his service pistol, took aim, and almost killed the dog.
For stopping the trooper from killing her dog and getting slammed to the ground in front of her 4-year-old son, Tiffanie was charged with misdemeanor obstruction.
Of course, Tiffanie Hupp pleaded not guilty, as the video clearly showed that she was the victim. However, the city railroaded Tiffanie by forcing her to use their public appointed defender, with obvious conflicts of interest.
She was given a public defender who was married to a state trooper. She was told she had no legal grounds for a lawsuit because she lacked serious bodily harm and she was well on her way to being declared guilty for a crime she clearly did not commit.
However, thanks to a selfless attorney who saw Hupp’s story, Tiffanie was able to fight back. Charleston Attorney, David Schles took her case pro bono.
“I was shown the video of the incident last August and I found it unjustifiable for Tiffanie to be charged with any crime for her reasonable, non-forcible, actions to defend Buddy the dog. When I was told the lawyer appointed to represent Tiffanie was married to a state trooper and did not inform Tiffanie of this relationship, I decided I would represent Tiffanie pro bono if she wanted my services,” Schles tells The Free Thought Project.
In spite of the video evidence proving she committed no crime, prosecutors still went after Mrs. Hupp. But on Monday, a jury returned the verdict of not guilty.
“For reasons I do not know, the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney refused to dismiss the charge and so we went to trial on February 29, 2016. After viewing the video and hearing the testimony and assessing the relative credibility of of Trooper Cook and Tiffanie, a Wood County jury unanimously found Tiffanie Not Guilty after a short period of deliberation,” Said Schles.
Hupp told the Free Thought Project that she had a hard time not bursting out in court when Trooper Cook, who assaulted her, took the stand.
“When the trooper was on the stand, it was hard to keep my mouth shut…lie after lie after lie. He told them I had a crossbow in my hand, that I stepped up to him, not in between (him and the dog), that I raised my hands at him first,” explained Tiffanie.
But the video proved these were all lies, illustrating the importance of filming police encounters. Had Tiffanie’s husband decided not to pull out his camera that fateful day, an innocent woman would have been found guilty of a crime she did not commit.
“My personal belief is that Trooper Cook was wholly in the wrong and Tiffanie was the aggrieved party. While it is disappointing that the trooper acted as he did on the day of the incident, unfortunately, it is not surprising that a law enforcement officer failed to act competently and properly. It is surprising, and to me disturbing, that following the incident no one in the WVSP or the Wood County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office reviewed the evidence in a reasonable manner and took the proper action to have this case dismissed. Instead, taxpayer money was wasted and Tiffanie was forced to wait over nine months with a criminal charge hanging over her head for doing nothing more than standing between a chained and defenseless dog and a man pointing a gun and threatening to shoot for no justifiable reason.
“Thankfully, if slowly, and inefficiently, the system can work and the jury made the correct decision and exonerated Tiffanie,” said Schles.