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Justice for Karley

April 2nd: Ex-fire official sentenced for dog beating

A retired Los Angeles County assistant fire chief was sentenced to 90 days weekend jail time and three years probation for using a rock to severely beat a puppy that later had to be euthanized.

Justice for Karley - Conviction in Puppy Beating Trial

Warren and his listeners demanded a trial in the case of the beating of the puppy Karley
which resulted in her death - now a retired L.A. County Fire Chief has been convicted
at trial and could face up to 4 years in prison.

Full Report of the Trial

'Last Chance for Animals' report

Walks & Candlelight Vigils for Karley in Southern California:
Sunday March 15th 2009

Saturday February 28th
VENICE BEACH from 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Beverly Hills Magazine [February 09]
If this story is disturbing to you as it is to us, there is something you can do. SuperStar music man Willie Nelson has recently signed an online petition against Johnson. You can as well.

Asst. Fire Chief Pleads Not Guilty to Animal Cruelty
By John Asbury
The Press Enterprise
January 14th

A Los Angeles County assistant fire chief pleaded not guilty Tuesday to an animal cruelty charge that he beat a neighbor's puppy with a rock so badly it had to be euthanized, in a case that has triggered angry protests and garnered international attention.

As he left the courthouse, Glynn Johnson, 54, of Riverside, was also served with a civil lawsuit by the dog's owners.

Johnson entered the plea through one of his three attorneys as protesters waited outside. Johnson did not speak. The dog's owners, Jeff and Shelley Toole, who live in the same Woodcrest neighborhood as Johnson, were not allowed in the packed courtroom.

Johnson is charged with one count of felony animal cruelty and an enhancement of assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities say he attacked the 6-month-old German shepherd mix, Karley, with a rock.

Johnson said the dog latched onto his thumb and he was defending himself. He said he suffered a broken bone in his thumb and required stitches. His attorneys have said that Johnson used the amount of force necessary to defend himself, and that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

If convicted, Johnson could face four years in prison. He is free on $10,000 bond. The Los Angeles County Fire Department has placed him on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of criminal charges.

In the wake of the beating Nov. 3, protesters have demonstrated at the Riverside courthouse and district attorney's office four times, chanting, "Justice for Karley." A woman in England composed a folk song on behalf of the dog's memory that is posted on a Web site maintained by the Tooles.

As Johnson exited the courthouse on Tuesday, animal-rights activists hissed. Johnson, who is black, was followed by cries of "puppy killer," some threats and a few racial slurs as he went through the rear exit.

In an interview at Johnson's home prior to Tuesday's arraignment, Johnson said that the day of the incident, he saw Karley from his upstairs window running across his yard as the Toole family tried to get her to come home.

Another neighbor, Travis Skaggs, eventually caught the dog in his yard. Johnson, who had gone outside to help look for the dog, offered to take Karley home because Skaggs would have had to walk around a long fence shared with Johnson's property and Skaggs had his own animals with him.

Johnson said he was in his front yard when Karley latched onto his thumb, and he reached for a 12-pound rock to beat her into submission. His attorneys said that was Johnson's only option to defend himself.


However, Shelley Toole disputed that notion.

"At some point when Karley was out, he became the aggressor and she was no longer a threat," she said in a previous interview. "We feel she was not a threat in the first place."

Johnson's wife and Skaggs ran to the scene after the attack had begun, said Angela Powell, one of Johnson's attorneys. Skaggs, who is expected to be called as a witness in the trial, has said he saw Johnson punching the dog and hitting it with a rock.

But Johnson and John Sweeney, another of his attorneys, said Tuesday that witnesses could not have seen the incident, because their view was obstructed by other buildings or they were too far away.

The Tooles have said they believe the attack was premeditated and stemmed from a neighborhood dispute, but Johnson said he couldn't think of any past disputes with his neighbors.

Powell also said she believes the Riverside County district attorney's office "fell to the political pressure of animal rights group" in deciding to press charges.

Riverside County Deputy District Attorney William Robinson, who is prosecuting the case, said those accusations are "absolutely not true."

"These charges were filed based on the merits of the case. This was a heinous crime and we take these charges very seriously," Robinson said. "I think we filed the appropriate charges and the jurors will make the right call."

Civil case

After the arraignment, Jeff Toole told district attorney officials, "We're in your corner."

In the lawsuit, the Toole family accuses Johnson of letting Karley out of a secured fence "for the purpose of causing her physical harm."

They are seeking an unspecified damages for the loss of Karley, veterinary bills and emotional distress and suffering, said their attorney, Steve Haney.

The family says Shelley Toole lost her job after the incident because she was too distressed to continue working at Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center, Haney said, and the suit also seeks lost wages.

The family will wait to pursue the civil suit until after the criminal proceedings have been completed, he said.

Sweeney said he had not yet reviewed the civil suit, but like the criminal charges, he said it would not stand up in court based on witness testimony.

Puppy's beating near Riverside spurs outrage, demands for action

By David Kelly Los Angeles Times
December 19, 2008

Reporting from Riverside -- After weeks of protest and outrage, dozens of demonstrators Thursday celebrated the arrest of Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson, who stands accused of savagely beating a neighbor's puppy last month with a rock.

Carrying signs saying "Jail the Puppy Killer!," about 50 people marched in front of the Riverside County district attorney's office chanting, "Thank you, D.A.; now make Johnson pay."

Johnson, 54, was arrested Tuesday, charged with one count of felony animal cruelty and the use of a dangerous weapon in the commission of a felony. He was released on $10,000 bail and faces up to four years in jail if convicted in the beating of 6-month-old Karley, a shepherd mix.

Johnson, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, reportedly told investigators that he acted in self-defense.

For the last few weeks, protesters have rallied in front of the district attorney's office. Some believe Johnson's status as a fire chief won him special treatment. They are demanding that he be fired.

"There were witnesses to this crime, and sheriff's deputies could have arrested him that day," said Jeffrey Toole, who co-owned Karley with his wife, Shelley. "Did he get special treatment? Yes, he did. If I had done that to his dog, I guarantee you I'd be in jail that day."

Assistant Dist. Atty. Chuck Hughes said the arrest took time because more investigation was needed.

"He was not afforded any special treatment and his employment played no role in when we filed charges," Hughes said. "When a case gets submitted we review it. . . . If more evidence is needed, we send it back."

The incident has generated national attention and served as a rallying cry for those seeking harsher penalties against animal abusers. Hundreds of people from around the nation have called the Tooles offering support.

The family has set up a website (justice4karley.com), and a group of retired Los Angeles County firefighters has established a fund to help pay legal costs as the family pursues a civil case against Johnson.

"We had no idea we would get this kind of support," Toole said. "We would like to see the laws change. I'd equate losing Karley with losing a child, and I want to see Johnson get the maximum punishment."

This isn't the family's first run-in with Johnson.

Shelley Toole called deputies in August 2000, saying Johnson shot her dog Kahlua above the eye with a pellet gun. The deputy, she said, told her that it would be her word against his and advised her not to pursue the case.

Bryan Monell, a senior investigator with Last Chance for Animals, a Los Angeles group specializing in animal cruelty cases, has interviewed residents in Johnson's neighborhood who say their dogs have gone missing or have been shot with pellet or BB guns.

Chris DeRose, founder of Last Chance For Animals, said that in his 30 years of investigating animal cruelty cases, this was one of the worst beatings he'd seen.

"When you see something like this you got to take a stand," he said. "To me, it's not just an animal issue, it's a people issue."

RALLY: Warren Eckstein joined activists who marched at the Riverside County courthouse, protesting the November beating of Jeff and Shelley Toole’s puppy, which was later euthanized. L.A. County Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson was arrested Tuesday.

The incident happened Nov. 3 in an unincorporated area near Riverside.

Travis Staggs, a friend of the Toole family, said he was returning with Karley from a walk when Johnson approached and asked if he could take the dog the rest of the way home.

"He walked maybe 100 feet with the dog and that's when it happened," said Shelley Toole, who had discussed the incident with Staggs but had not seen it herself.

"Travis saw Karley on her back and Glynn punching her with his closed fist at least 10 times to her head. He then literally pulled her jaws apart until they broke."

Staggs told police that Johnson then hit Karley more than 10 times in the head with a rock.

Staggs called 911. Not long after, Johnson's wife called 911 reporting that her husband had been attacked by a dog.

Karley's nasal cavity was crushed, her skull cracked in three places, her ear canal collapsed and one of her eyes lost, according to the veterinarian's report.

"The vet told me, 'We can try to save her, but if she survives she will have permanent brain damage and may not be able to function,' " said Shelley Toole, who chose to have the dog euthanized.

"She was never an aggressive dog. All she wanted to do was play. We took her to the river and she rode in the boat with her head over the railing. She loved the water."

Johnson, a 31-year veteran of the fire department, was treated at a local hospital for injuries to his wrist and thumb that he said he got when Karley bit his hand.

Johnson was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the case, said Inspector Sam Padilla, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"He hasn't been convicted of anything yet, so he can't be fired," said Padilla. "It's called due process. What other people say is just their personal opinion. But you can't hold a badge if you have a felony conviction."

Johnson is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 13 at 1:30 p.m.

More information

Warren's "The Pet Show" radio show on
Saturday 11am to 1pm on
Los Angeles KRLA 870am
San Bernardino and Riverside KTIE 590am


Sign the Petition

Karley's Facebook Page

Puppy severely beaten, resulting in death
Riverside, CA (US)

As Reported on Pet-Abuse.com
Incident Date: Monday, Nov 3, 2008
County: Riverside
Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Not Charged
Person of Interest: Glynn Thomas Johnson

How can any human being just murder a puppy for no reason?" dogowner Shelley Toole says fighting through tears.

Her family can't sleep.

They say Monday, their next-door neighbor, in some kind of violent rage, beat their puppy so badly the dog had to be put down.

Karley was a six-month old shepherd mix.

What may surprise many people is the fact that the neighbor is Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson.

An online biography lists a stellar 30-year career with the department. It says he's an expert in counter-terrorism, among other areas.

But his neighbors of the last ten years have a very different picture of the man. Jeff Toole, Shelley's husband, says he believes Chief Johnson "needs a lot of help."

Riverside County investigators tell KTLA the fire chief admits to beating the dog -- but says it was in self-defense because Karley attacked him viciously.

The Tooles say Monday evening, Karley got out and went to neighbor Travis Staggs' home. He lives on the other side of Chief Johnson's house.

Staggs says he was walking Karley home when Johnson stepped in and said he would take the dog back home.

Staggs says he reluctantly handed over the puppy, and that's when it happened in Johnson's front yard.

Travis Staggs tells KTLA that Glynn Johnson simply started beating the dog, and that the dog had not attacked Johnson first.

According to this witness, Johnson hit the dog repeatedly with a closed fist, put his hands in the puppy's mouth and tried to break its jaws, and eventually beat the dog over the head repeatedly with a large rock from the front yard.

Staggs says he tried to stop the attack but couldn't. The Toole family later decided to have Karley put down because of the extent of her injuries.

"It scares me, knowing I live next-door to this man," says Travis Staggs.

The Tooles say they will take civil action against the assistant fire chief regardless of the outcome of the criminal investigation.

Riverside County deputies tell KTLA they are conducting more interviews with witnesses in an attempt to determine what really happened in this case. If detectives find enough evidence that the dog beating was unwarranted, they will hand the case over to the district attorney for a possible animal cruelty charge, which is a felony.

The Tooles say there is a "history of violence" with Glynn Johnson, and deputies say they are looking into these claims as well.

"This man needs to go to prison for what he did," says Shelley Toole. She adds, "Karley was my baby, and he took her away from me."

Case Update

Source: Daily Bulletin - Nov 8, 2008
Update posted on Nov 9, 2008 - 5:52PM

A Los Angeles County Fire Department division chief is being investigated for beating his neighbor's dog and causing injuries that led to the animal's euthanizing.

Glynn Johnson, 54, supervises stations in Pomona, Diamond Bar, Walnut, Industry, La Puente, Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies Monday afternoon received two calls from the 17000 block of Armintrout Drive in Riverside, according to a sheriff's news release.

A woman called and said her husband was attacked by a dog, and a man called and said his neighbor had beaten a dog with a large rock.

A witness told deputies that his neighbor had beaten a dog belonging to another resident, according to the news release.

Before the beating, the witness found the dog near his home and decided to return the animal to its owner.

When he attempted to return the dog to its home, Johnson intervened and offered to return the dog for him.

Johnson lives next door to the dog's owner, according to the news release.

After giving the dog to Johnson, the witness told deputies he saw Johnson beat the dog with his hands.

The witness also reported seeing Johnson use a rock to hit the dog.

The owner took the dog to a veterinarian, where it was euthanized, according to the news release.

A deputy spoke to Johnson at a hospital, where he was being treated for wrist and thumb injuries.

He told deputies the dog attacked him and that he struck it in self-defense.

Johnson has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Johnson, a 31-year veteran of the Fire Department, told his supervisors he acted in self-defense.

The Fire Department did not release any further information.

Fire officials will wait until the sheriff's investigation is completed before they take any action, according to the news release.

Johnson declined to comment when reached by phone Friday afternoon. His attorneys have advised him not to talk about the incident.

Case Update

Source: LA Times - Nov 8, 2008

A Riverside teenager who left home to run an errand came home 20 minutes later to find paramedics, police and a firetruck outside his home. A neighbor took him to see the family dog, beaten and bleeding under a bush.

The female dog, a 6-month-old shepherd mix named Karley, allegedly was beaten by a neighbor, Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson, who was placed on administrative leave Friday while the incident is investigated.

Dog beating: A headline on an article in Saturday's California section about the beating of a dog in Riverside said that a Los Angeles County fire official had been arrested in the case. The official, Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson, was not arrested. He was placed on administrative leave from his job.

Johnson reportedly told investigators that he had acted in self-defense.

Karley was euthanized a few hours after the incident, which occurred about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Karley apparently had run across Johnson's yard and into the next yard.

Travis Staggs said he started walking the dog home from his yard when Johnson offered to take Karley home.

"Then something in his head snapped and he started beating the dog," Staggs said.

Johnson allegedly punched Karley with a closed fist about a dozen times and then beat her with an 11-inch rock, Staggs said, adding that he tried to stop Johnson but was pushed away.

Authorities received two calls from the 17000 block of Armintrout Drive: one from a woman who said her husband was attacked by a dog, and another from a man who said his neighbor had beaten a dog, Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. David Barton said in a statement.

After Brandon Toole, 19, saw the injured dog, his 17-year-old sister, Heather, rushed the animal to a veterinarian, and later an animal intensive care unit.

Karley was euthanized because she was so badly injured, said Jeff Toole, the teenagers' father.

"I can't describe the way [Karley] looked and the pain she was in," Brandon Toole said.

Police said Johnson was taken to a hospital for wrist and thumb injuries.

Jeff Toole said the thumb puncture occurred when Johnson grabbed Karley's mouth and broke her jaw.

Johnson told his bosses about the incident, which he described as self-defense, said Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.

"The Los Angeles County Fire Department is deeply concerned with allegations regarding Assistant Chief Glynn Johnson's actions in the beating of his neighbor's dog," Freeman said in a statement.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department is investigating. Malicious and intentional injuring of an animal is a felony.

The Toole family said Karley was a well-behaved dog.

"We are going to have to find another place to live," Jeff Toole said.

Peaceful Protest in
Riverside Southern California

Protesters Demand Charges in Puppy Beating Case More Related Content

KTLA News December 4, 2008

RIVERSIDE -- Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Riverside County DA's office Wednesday to demand charges be filed against L.A. County Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson in the beating death of a neighbor's dog.

Johnson says the neighbors' dog, named Karley, nearly bit off his thumb and that he acted in self-defense.

But a witness claims Johnson beat the 6-month old puppy over the head with his fist and a large rock -- in some kind of violent outburst.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has recommended felony animal cruelty charges against Johnson, but the DA is still reviewing the case.

Warren helped organize the peaceful protest on Wednesday December 3rd at Riverside Hall of Justice, 4100, Main Street in Riverside, CA 92501.

Please email Warren at Karley@WarrenEckstein.com
(put KARLEY in the subject line)
if you wish to comment on this story

More information on "The Pet Show" radio show on Saturday 11am- 1pm on
Los Angeles KRLA 870am
San Bernardino and Riverside KTIE 590am

Will public opinion affect legal process in puppy's death?

By John Asbury
The Press-Enterprise - December 5, 2008

Despite a flurry of protests, phone calls and media attention, Riverside County district attorney's officials say they will not be influenced by public opinion when deciding whether to file animal cruelty charges in the recent beating and death of a 6-month-old puppy.

Southern California television and radio programs have helped fuel the case, aided by angry rhetoric on the Internet. Radio hosts have publicly given the phone number to the district attorney's office and urged listeners to call and pressure officials to file charges. Protesters have marched outside the courthouse.

While some legal experts agree prosecutors stand by the legal standard of avoiding the consideration of public opinion, experts and activists believe that mounting pressure from public outrage and the interpretation of what might merit criminal charges can sometimes influence criminal cases.

In a range of legal issues from obscenity standards to national security privacy, prosecutors must take into account public perception and societal standards, said Rebecca Lonergan, a USC law professor and former federal prosecutor and trial attorney.

"The DA may say they are not going to be influenced, but some question if they really are influenced by outrage and media coverage," Lonergan said.

Even with animal cruelty statutes, the law is based on "the everyman standard," or what the general public would consider reasonable or a crime, she said.

"Those screaming outside the DA's window are not honestly going to be something he takes into account. Hopefully a case will be judged on its merits," Lonergan said.

Activists Start Campaign

In recent weeks, animal-rights activists and the dog's owners have launched a campaign seeking criminal charges against Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief Glynn Johnson, of the Woodcrest area of Riverside. No charges have been filed.

Johnson severely beat the puppy, Karley, with a rock. He has said it was in self-defense after the dog latched onto his hand and nearly bit through his thumb, but owners Jeff and Shelley Toole say they believe the attack was premeditated and stemmed from a neighborhood dispute.

The case has been under review by the district attorney's office since Nov. 12, when Riverside County sheriff's deputies recommended animal cruelty charges be filed. Johnson has not been arrested.

Riverside County Assistant District Attorney Chuck Hughes said the case is being scrutinized to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with charges.

 Hughes said his office has received numerous phone calls and letters about the case. He said officials are open to listening to concerns and input but said the outcome of the case would be based on evidence.

"Public opinion has no role in our filing decision," Hughes said. "People writing letters haven't seen the evidence. They don't really know what the facts of the case are."

Trials by opinion

Justice is blind, the saying goes. But examples can be found of cases both where legal officials have rejected public opinion's influence, and where they have seemingly bowed to it.

Authorities have been known to strictly follow judicial standards to avoid any perception of impropriety in high-profile cases.

As O.J. Simpson was sentenced on armed robbery and kidnapping charges Friday, the Las Vegas judge made it clear she was not seeking any retribution for his previous murder trial acquittal.

In a cyber bullying case that gained worldwide attention, a Missouri woman was charged after she harassed a teenage neighbor on MySpace, and the girl committed suicide. She was found guilty last month of three misdemeanors of violating a federal law against computer hacking, but publicity surrounding the case focused on the girl's death.

The judge in the case said the suicide evidence was admitted during the trial only because there had been so much publicity that the case's details had become common knowledge.

"This would never have come to the U.S. attorney if there hadn't been such a public outcry," Lonergan said. "Bringing it to the attention of the public definitely plays a part."

Tom Ruskin, a private investigator and former New York City police officer, said most cases are treated fairly.

Exceptions to Rule

"Prosecutors will not be influenced in most cases by public opinion," Ruskin said.

However, there have been exceptions, he said, especially when politics comes into play.

During a rape trial of three members of the Duke University lacrosse team, the North Carolina prosecutor -- who was up for re-election at the time -- brought overzealous and unfounded charges and was eventually disbarred, Ruskin said.

"We would be very naive to think a prosecutor never considers public perception in viewing a case," Ruskin said.

Lonergan agreed that political pressure can play a role in prosecutors' decisions.

"The reality is the DA is an elected official, and any elected official has to pay attention to opinion," she said.

In the case of the dead puppy, some of the protesters have noted that Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco is up for re-election in 2010.

Public pressure

The Toole family and about 80 protesters from throughout Southern California marched this week in front of the district attorney's office in Riverside, shouting "No more coverup" and calling for Pacheco to file charges.

"We want to keep the pressure on, so the DA will move on this," Jeff Toole said. "I don't understand what takes so long. There's more than enough evidence to make an arrest."

Johnson has said he was taking the dog home after she got loose. As he was walking back, Johnson said Karley attacked him.

A neighbor who had first found the dog running loose, Travis Staggs, said he never saw Karley bite Johnson before Johnson began beating her with a rock.

Since the investigation began, Johnson has declined to comment to the media or to authorities. He remains on paid administrative leave.

Prosecutors are continuing to ask sheriff's deputies to investigate and finalize any additional evidence or interviews before a decision is made, said Hughes, the Riverside County assistant district attorney. Authorities have not estimated when the case may be completed.

Prior to filing charges, prosecutors must judge their case based on available evidence, the likely defenses to be raised during trial and the criminal history of a defendant, Hughes said.

But Lonergan said it's not always that simple.

"The law is based on what society thinks. Like with obscenity, it's what shocks the conscience," Lonergan said.

Hughes said his office welcomes and respects public input but will focus on the case to make the right decision.

"Cases of violence toward animals often garner tremendous sympathy toward the animal and anger toward the subject," Hughes said.

Toole said he agrees with Riverside County prosecutors that the case should not be swayed by public outcry, but he is eager for some resolution.

"I just want to give Karley her day in court," Toole said. "Public opinion shouldn't steer this one way or another. But we have to keep pressure on this; otherwise it will be swept under the rug."

The Press-Enterprise Original Story

Click here to watch a video report from The Press Enterprise newspaper including an interview with Fire Chief Glynn Johnson www.pe.com

Posted by Warren Eckstein on 04/02/2010 at 1:30 PM - PERMALINK | ADD YOUR COMMENT | EMAIL | PRINT | RSS  Subscribe
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