Sunday, July 25, 2010
From left: Widow Bessie Parker and the victim's daughter Gardenia Parker.
From left: Gardenia, the Tree of Hope memorial and victim William Parker.
Tree of Hope Corridor
UPDATE 07/25/10: On Saturday, family and friends held a vigil for 71-year old William Parker who died Tuesday after being mauled by two pit bulls. Neighbors lit candles, hung teddy bears and Tree of Hope signs on a tree near the scene of the mauling. Gardenia said the half-block walk to the vigil was the most difficult of her life. She was the one that found her dying father. She said, "When I got there, the dogs had already tore both of his legs to pieces. No skin, just bones there."
Bessie Parker, William's grieving wife, prayed with her daughter during the vigil. "I can't see my husband," she said, "but I can feel him all around me." Neighborhood Watch President Georgia King got volunteers to clean up the area near the mauling to turn it into a Tree of Hope corridor. A family spokesperson said William Parker's visitation is next Friday at N.J. Ford Funeral Home from 4 p.m. to 7 pm. The funeral will be next Saturday at 11 am at Lake Grove Baptist Church.
07/23/10: Director Defends Police
Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin went on record today to talk about the department's dog policy. According to Godwin, officers followed protocol during the Sunday incident, thus alleviating the department from any liability that occurred Tuesday: The death of one person and the injury of four others. When officers arrived Sunday, the dogs had been contained. This combined with "non bite" injury did not warrant notifying the Memphis Animal Shelter or taking any further action.
Godwin says his officers got a call about the pit bulls roaming Manassas St. Sunday, "When the officers made the scene over there. The dogs were contained. They were legally on a chain."Who Is Sherry Wooten?
The officers gave the owner a citation for not having proper paperwork for the pit bulls and arrested him on a sex offender violation.
His dogs stayed behind.
Godwin says the owner told officers his family would take care of the animals.
"Our policy is pretty much we don't confiscate dogs. If there are dogs running loose, animal shelter is notified. We look of course to the safety of the citizens," said Godwin. (WREG, News Channel 3)
A separate article, also published Friday, reveals more information about the woman charged. Wooten is the girlfriend of the dogs' owner's brother, Andre Humphrey, and is close to giving birth. According to police, Andre was supposed to take possession of the dogs after his brother was taken into custody. Andre claims that his brother did not own the dogs, but that his brother's "ex-girlfriend" did. He said it is she who should be charged, not Wooten or his brother.
It is important to pay attention to the finger pointing that is occurring. It is not unusual after a serious or fatal dog attack for owners to claim that they did not own the offending animals. Typical excuses include: the dogs were strays; the dogs were being "kept" by a relative or the dogs belonged to a boyfriend. This is another reason why "Punish the Deed" is misleading and impractical. If ownership of the dog cannot properly be established, there is no person to punish.
07/22/10: Woman Charged in Maulings
Sherry Wooten, 23-years old, has been charged in connection to the Memphis pit bull maulings that took the life of William Parker and sent four others to the hospital, seriously injuring two. According to police, Wooten, a friend of the dogs' owner, released the dogs from the apartment knowing they were vicious in nature. Wooten was charged Thursday with Reckless Homicide and four counts of Felony Reckless Endangerment. Wooten is scheduled to be in court Friday.
After the Sunday incident, a relative of the dog owner was supposed to take possession of the dogs. Apparently this did not occur. Now Wooten holds the blame for all five victims in Tuesday's attacks. The dogs' owner, Bernard Humphrey, who knew better than anyone else that his dogs were "vicious in nature," may hold no blame. Ironically, the safest place for Humphrey to be on Tuesday, July 20th was behind bars. Now a friend of his will take the rap for his multiple maulers.
07/22/10: Victim Says Woman "Watched"
On Wednesday, victim Kevin Stringfellow shed new light on the Memphis pit bull maulings. The attack on Stringfellow was a separate incident than the one involving Parker. He said the dogs attacked him about 30 minutes earlier and that a woman from the dog owner's apartment ignored his cries for help. He did not learn of Parker until he was at the hospital. Though left with 52 holes in his arm, Stringfellow considers himself lucky. He used an empty beer bottle to fend off the dogs.
Police Protocol Failure?
As events leading up to the fatal attack become somewhat clearer, questions of police protocol arise. On Sunday, the same two dogs chased Leroy French atop a car. His cries for help alerted neighbors who called police. When police arrived, they did not remove the dogs, but arrested the dogs' owner, Bernard Humphrey, who was in violation of the sex offender act. French was sent to the hospital with "non bite" injury; he slipped and banged his head when scrambling atop the car.1
In the same video, Humphrey's mother, Patrice, said that her son used to live with her. She said she called police at least three times in fear of his dogs. She eventually forced him and his dogs out of her home. Humphrey began renting an apartment in Parker's community shortly thereafter. Despite the incident with French, at least four vicious dog calls to the police and being a convicted felon, police left Humphrey's dogs at his home when they took him into custody Sunday night.
The question is, when an offender like Humphrey is taken into custody, whose dogs had a clear and ongoing track record with authorities, what should happen to these dogs? Who becomes responsible for the animals while the owner is in custody? Is it protocol to contact animal control to impound the dogs or to at least follow up in these cases? Or does the offender simply appoint a family member or friend (in this case his alleged girlfriend) to care for the dogs while in custody?
Though not widely known to the public, studies show that owners of vicious dogs are often deviants and criminals. Police are especially attuned to this. They understand more than anyone else what might lie behind the door when serving a warrant: a vicious dog. It seems hard to believe that a protocol would not exist, but in Tennessee, just about anything is possible when it comes to laws failing to govern dangerous dogs. This failure directly led to the death of Parker.
07/20/10 Victims' Family Blame Police
New information has been released about the Memphis pit bull maulings that killed one and injured four others. The victims' families are not just blaming the owner of the dogs, they are blaming the Memphis police. Eyewitness News reports that the dead victim's wife, Bessie Parker, and her neighbors called the police on Sunday about the very dogs that killed her husband and seriously injured several others after the pit bulls forced a resident to take refuge atop a car.
It was a Memphis Police officer that owned the two pit bulls that killed Betty Lou Stidham, a school teacher, in 1990 (see footnotes).Before brutally attacking William Parker, the pit bulls attacked neighbor Kevin Stringfellow when he tried to come to the 71-year old man's rescue. "He got bit like 30 to 40 times," said his brother Darryl. "He got bit in the head, legs, arms, everywhere. Had to use a bottle to beat them off. He's probably going to need surgery. If I would have been out there, I would have shot the dogs, point blank," Darryl said. (A separate report said that Kevin also had a finger bitten off in the attack.)
Parker's daughter, Gardenia, was also injured in the attack. She suffered a broken elbow and puncture wounds to her legs and arms. It is unclear, as of late Tuesday night, if the Memphis Police Department ever contacted the Memphis Animal Shelter about the earlier complaints. Mayor A C Wharton's office denied Eyewitness News cameras access to the dogs and forbid the new shelter director, Matt Pepper, from explaining to reporters what happens next in the process.
07/20/10: Pit Bulls Kill One, Injure More
Memphis, TN - In a developing story, two pit bulls killed an elderly man, seriously injured his daughter and attacked emergency responders who were trying to help the victims. William Parker, 71, was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. His daughter suffered severe bite injuries and is currently hospitalized. Lt. Ray Pelletier and paramedic Ken Hartfield were taken to the hospital for bite injuries to the lower legs and abdomen; both have been released.
The City of Memphis2
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis's newspaper, is sympathetic to pit bulls.3 The "cause of death was uncertain," according to the Appeal. Back in January, Councilman Shea Flinn proposed a pit bull sterilization law due to the overwhelming number of pit bulls in the city's shelter. By March, the proposal had become a sterilization law for "all dogs," which dumbs down the original and hides the central issue that plagues nearly all U.S. city shelters: a pit bull overpopulation crisis.
2The City of Memphis has been painfully aware of the pit bull problem for at least 20 years. The 1990 fatal attack of Betty Lou Stidham is still posted in the People Magazine archive. The negligence of the city in Stidham's death ultimately cost them in civil court (See: full history). The gruesome 2007 attack of James Chapple Jr., which ended in his death, even dawned coverage from Reader's Digest.
3In the 2007 Appeal's photographic essay, "Menace Unleashed," 33 photographs are shown, but only 5 (15%) depict pit bull victims and these are seen at the very end of the segment. The related video is even more biased. Reporter Cindy Wolff even encourages the public to adopt abused pit bulls -- dogs with a potentially highly unstable temperament. Wolff also pushes "nanny dog" and "Petey" stories promoted by pro-pit bull groups. The Appeal's video has no mention of pit bull victims.
02/06/20: Pet Pit Bull Unleashes Explosive Attack on Owner and Two Others in Hoboken
08/24/09: 2009 U.S. Shelter Data: Pit Bulls Account for 58% of Dogs Euthanized
Photos: The Commercial Appeal
Please donate to support our work
DogsBite.org is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity organization. Learn more »
| 7/20/2010 11:00 PM |
I love it when they mention the "hold and shake" bite style. It means the reporters are actually doing research.
| 7/21/2010 1:34 AM |
this isn't the serengeti. people should be able to water their tomatoes, take out the trash, get their mail, walk their dogs, ride their bikes and sit on their porch without being viciously attacked by dogs. it is an outrage that people like ledy vankavage can get away with comparing violent dog attacks to being struck by lightening and calling 30 canine fatalities a year statistically insignificant.
| 7/21/2010 2:03 AM |
It is important to point out that with unfolding fatal attacks of this nature, older posted stories, such as "07/20/10: Pit Bulls Kill One, Seriously Injure Others" are often updated with new information. Late this evening, WREG updated their original story with a new video and named the dog owner, BERNARD HUMPHREY (a sex offender), and described the Sunday attack upon LEROY FRENCH, in which appropriate follow up by Memphis police may not have been taken.
| 7/21/2010 8:01 AM |
The things I could say about the Memphis PD and the corruption and racism that is RAMPANT in that department and city...
Let's just say that it is of no surprise to me whatsoever that the PD dropped the ball on this or that the mayor is being obstructionist with the media. That city is a cess-pool in more ways than one. I feel terrible for this family and the devastation they've suffered. I hope they sue the pants off the dog owner and the city.
| 7/21/2010 10:58 AM |
The Commercial Appeal has not only taken some lines directly from the MAUL TALK manual, they have mistakenly attributed the Delise Maul Talk years (1965-2001) as coming from the CDC. Interestingly, the Appeal's mish-mashing of statistics makes pit bulls look even worse! Watch for a correction coming soon!
"It was the latest violent incident involving poorly trained pit bulls and their sometimes-negligent owners. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that, between 1965 and 2001, pit bulls were responsible for more human deaths than any other dog breed."
The CDC report covered the years from 1979 to 1998:
One of course should consider the pit bulls in this case. The Appeal writes, "The pit bulls were eventually captured and taken to Memphis Animal Services. Their future is unclear." Tia Torres, Steve Markwell, step right up to "rehabilitate" these dogs. Better yet, the Appeal ought to start an online petition: SAVE SATAN AND MENACE! IT'S NOT THEIR FAULT THEY WERE UNLEASHED!
| 7/21/2010 2:27 PM |
What a horrible event. If this were caused by a wild animal, say a bobcat or bear, sharpshooters and traps would be posted everywhere. The hunt for the animal behind such gruesome attacks would be hunted.
Not so with pit bulls. Apologists for the breed will soon be making their rounds. Bad owner, neglect, environment, etc. Gimme a break.
These dogs are a man-made problem. The solution is also man-made. BSL prohibiting ownership, breeding, etc. Eliminate future suffering at the jaws of pit bulls; ban the breed.
| 7/21/2010 5:18 PM |
Trigger, Cindy Wolff is responsible for the lies printed in the appeal. She and I have been adversaries for a number of years because she is a die hard "No Kill'er". I started reading her articles years ago because she actually does some good reporting. But she is an extremist on the "No Kill" and pit issues. And I have to ask, what good does someone like Wolff think she's doing by spreading the propaganda? All it does is contribute to the daily reports of maulings and fatalities.
| 7/23/2010 6:53 AM |
Homicide charges! Too little too late, but it's a start. I'm so sick of hearing of cases like this where it's all treated like some accident. It's only an accident if you have no reasonable reason to believe it won't happen, like a chihuahua managing to kill a person. With pit bulls, if you don't know they're potentially lethal, you're either stupid or live under a rock.
| 7/25/2010 5:18 PM |
The situation in Memphis is abysmal. The police are substituting one social injustice with another. The dogs' owner was jailed just prior to the attack so let's arrest his pregnant girlfriend? William Parker's family is broken. The community is broken. It's SOP to chain pit bulls throughout the city, driven by Memphis law. Dogfighting and the abuse of pit bulls are out of control as well. The pit bull bite count must be horrendous in the City of Memphis. But one won't see this in the news. DogsBite, you should request these records under the FOIA. It might ignite a few local fires.
| 7/27/2010 12:15 AM |
Memphis has a solution just 120 miles awy. Of course it is an committment to the animals of the city. Littlr Rock has proven it can be done and getting better each day.
Bites are down, dog on animal attacks are down. It is so easy to require spay/neuter, no chains, microchipping and registration. We still have many in our city that are not registered but the owners are keeping the put up. Tis is a good breed but it takes laws to control the bad ones and if you are a lover of this dog you will understand. It is the most abused animal in this nation.