Madison County, AL — Last year, on March 6, Richard Junkins lost everything. Then, after he’d watched his entire life burn to the ground, a heroic Madison County Sheriff’s deputy came and took the last thing Junkins had left, his dog.
On that fateful night, Junkins, his wife Angie, and their beloved black lab Mr. Bear barely managed to make it out of their home alive before it was engulfed in flames and burned to ashes. Junkins, obviously distressed, lay grieving in his front yard for hours — his “son” Mr. Bear by his side.
“He was an inside dog. He never slept outside in his life,” said Junkins. “He was like a son to me. To some people, that may sound funny.”
Responding to a call of a man acting strangely, deputies showed up to Junkins’ neighborhood. As Deputy Daniel De Jong fearfully walked toward the groaning, grief-stricken man, Mr. Bear came barking.
In response to the barking dog, De Jong cowardly fired his service weapon and killed Mr. Bear. The entire incident was captured on his body camera.
A young boy witnessed the shooting. “His dog was just barking and it didn’t do nothing. It was just barking at him,” the boy told AL.com.
Upon seeing the only thing he had left be killed by a police officer, Junkins obviously became even more distressed.
“Hey, stay where you’re at!” commanded De Jong.
“Son of a bitch…you shot my dog!”
De Jong repeated: “Get on the ground!”
Junkins twice tells him: “Shoot me!”
“Do you understand get on the ground?!?”
“My house burned down today and now you shot my dog!”
Eventually, Junkins was taken in without incident, and, after the deputy killed his dog, he arrested Junkins and charged him with disorderly conduct.
Last year, Junkins plead not guilty and the case went to trial this week. Despite the prosecution’s best attempt to paint Junkins as a criminal, and his assailant as a hero, the jury agreed with his plea, and, after only 20 minutes, they returned the verdict — not guilty.
Of course, had the jury seen the video, or even known that De Jong murdered Junkins’ beloved black lab prior to arresting him, their verdict would have been returned even quicker. However, granting De Jong special blue privilege, Judge Ruth Ann Hall ruled that lawyers could not discuss the shooting of Mr. Bear. But that’s not all.
De Jong’s violent history was also disallowed during the trial. Last year, Dominique Kenebrew, an electrical engineer, sued De Jong after this officer tasered him multiple times in the back for no reason.
The Madison County Sheriff’s office is operating more like a gang of criminals than a public service. According to AL.com, a Madison County deputy this year pleaded guilty in federal court to lying under oath after stalking, stopping and beating a man he fought in a bar. He awaits sentencing.
Another Madison County deputy was arrested this year for having sex with a student where he worked at Sparkman High School.
Meanwhile, depositions are underway this month in a series of lawsuits over three deaths for untreated minor medical conditions inside the county jail.
Sadly, this incident is merely one of many that play out every day across America.