Madison County, Alabama resident Richard Junkins lost his home and all of his possessions in a tragic fire. Hours later, an investigating police officer took the life of his “son”, a 7-year-old black lab named Mr. Bear.
In March of last year, Richard Junkins and his wife, Angie, watched their trailer burn to the ground, barely escaping the flames with their own lives. All that they were able to save was their beloved dog, Mr. Bear.
Deputies arrived to the scene later that evening, responding to a call from a driver saying that a man was sitting in the roadway and behaving strangely.
Deputy Daniel De Jong walked down the Junkins’ driveway and heard sounds of bellowing cries. Junkins was aguishly mourning the loss of his home. When De Jong came closer to where Junkins’ was sitting, Junkins’ dog, Mr. Bear, ran toward deputy De Jong loudly barking and trying to faithfully protect his owner.
De Jong immediately pulled out his gun and shot down Mr. Bear. Junkins was utterly grief stricken and in shock.
“Son of a bitch… you shot my dog,” he yelled at the officer in anguish. “Shoot me! Shoot me,” he begged. “My house burned down today and now you shot my dog!”
Junkins was then arrested and taken into custody for disorderly conduct. When he was released from jail he found Mr. Bear dead on his back porch.
The entirety of the event was captured on body cam.
Junkins pleaded not guilty to his misdemeanor charge last year when he was arrested. His case went to trial just this month. Despite the prosecution’s best attempt to paint Junkins as a miscreant, the jury returned a swift verdict in a mere 20 minutes: Not guilty.
Unfortunately, De Jong has thus far not been held accountable for Mr. Bear’s death. His police report includes no mention of killing Mr. Bear. According to Madison County police department, De Jong’s lethal response to the barking dog was textbook given the circumstances. The chief deputy of Madison County even praised De Jong for “doing the right thing” and protecting himself.
Junkins wants De Jong taken off the streets.
“This man tried to come on my land the day my house burned down … and he shoots a dog for barking at him,” said Junkins. “He didn’t have pepper spray, a stick … he had his gun out coming onto my property.”
De Jong has a history of brutality with the Madison County sheriff’s department that expands beyond the incident with Junkins and Mr. Bear. In January of this year, De Jong may have shot and killed a fleeing suspect. De Jong also had a lawsuit brought against him for tasing a man in the back three times during a housewarming party in 2013.
“Somebody’s got to be the voice of reason to make people understand police have been getting away with this for a long time,” declares Junkins. “It’s time to stop.”