Parkersburg, WV — In 2015, 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.
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, 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 told The Free Thought Project.
And, in 2016, Hupp was found not guilty.
Now, after that good news in 2016, Hupp has taken the fight back to the city in 2017. A national group advocating for the humane treatment of animals has filed a lawsuit on behalf Hupp.
In a release last week, the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced the suit.
As the News and Sentinel reports:
According to the release, Hupp is one of three plaintiffs and the other defendants in the case are the West Virginia State Police and Col. C.R. “Jay” Smithers, who was State Police superintendent at the time.
The complaint alleges excessive force, unlawful arrest and unlawful search and seizure, as well as malicious prosecution, negligent training of a police officer and the intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery and slander.
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. However, when the police showed up, they were more interested in Cliff’s dog than preventing any disturbance.
Randall Hupp, Tiffanie’s father, who gave us the video, explains that after the cops had arrived, the situation was calm, but then they quickly got out of control.
Things were going fine and my son decided to film for posterity sake in case anything should happen. There were two dogs present in the area at the time of the video, a black dog which was the neighbors dog that was running loose…and Cliffs dog, which was chained up.
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.
Before the state trooper could shoot the dog, however, Tiffanie courageously stepped in between the dog and the officer to prevent the puppycide.
The state trooper, seemingly offended by Hupp’s attempt to thwart his dog killing, then proceeded to attack her. Hupp explained to the Free Thought Project, last year, what happened next,
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.
During the trial, 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.
Now, it is time for the police, who tried to railroad Hupp, to be held accountable.
Hupp and the other plaintiffs are seeking restitution, including funds so her son can be treated by a mental health professional, which they have not been able to afford, the release says. The child suffers from anxiety and emotional distress when in the presence of police officers, the release says, as reported by the News and Sentinel.
“It shocks the conscience that police would arrest and prosecutors would seek to incarcerate a woman who did nothing other than protect a dog from being illegally shot,” one of Hupp’s lawyers, John Campbell, says in the release.
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