UPDATE: There's a reason the Washington State Patrol has no record of shooting Wickersham's dog: They didn't. Instead, it was an officer with the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife. Details inside.
Joe Wickersham really hates the Washington State Patrol. The long-practicing and nearly disbarred DUI defense attorney claims a WSP trooper shot his dog, and in fact was trying to shoot him. He believes this so much that he spray-painted the words "WSP = Killers," "Cops Kill," and "RIP" all over the front of his law office in Renton. Problem is, WSP claims they've never heard of him and have no trooper by the name he's giving. That, and Wickersham says he was recently institutionalized, so, uh, you do the math.
Neighbors are less concerned with his possible paranoid delusions than with what the bizarre graffiti on the front of his office is doing to the neighborhood. One such neighbor sent an e-mail to Seattle Weekly complaining about the office.
Here are some snaps from the office's real-estate listing page:
Hearing Wickersham tell his story is something one needs to get comfortable for, as it can't be done in less than an hour. He's articulate and intelligent, but following his train of thought is like wrestling with a slippery eel. A batshit-crazy slippery eel.
He believes that the Washington State Patrol doctored trial recordings in one of his cases to reflect badly on him, and that they are generally plotting his demise. But more than that, he says that on July 22 last year (he's very precise with dates), a Washington State Trooper showed up next door to his house, and before long his seeing-eye dog (Wickersham is mostly blind) was shot three times.
"I knew there was a sting going on around me," he says. "I was sitting on my top deck when I heard a car going down my neighbor's driveway. I walked downstairs and next thing I know I heard this woman saying 'Get the fuck out of here! I'm gonna shoot this dog!' Then I heard three shots."
He says the trooper--a female he says is named Trooper "Dickerson"--then ordered him down at gunpoint and refused to let him tend to his shot dog.
The dog, he says, survived the ordeal. But since then things have gone badly for him, and now he has to sell his home and his law office. His real-estate agent, Bob Wright, is doing his best to hawk the property, fielding questions about the graffiti as best he can.
"I put it on [the] market three months ago," Wright says. "I'm a broker. I'm not property maintenance or property management. He's tried to tell me his reasons for writing it there, but listening to him can be kind of a long ordeal."
The WSP dog-shooting story, however, just plain doesn't add up. WSP spokesperson Julie Startup (who, in the world of local law-enforcement public-information officers, is as good as they come) says she's run searches for anything to do with Wickersham's name, the dates he says the shooting took place, and really, anything at all to do with shots being fired, a dog, or any similar incident within a three-month date range of the time he's claiming--and she's come back with nothing.
She also says there is no Trooper Dickerson, and no female trooper with a name even close to that.
And Wickersham, in between his hour-long ramblings, does mention being sent to the "psych ward" several times.
"But I was out of there in no time," he says, assuredly.
As for the weird graffiti? Wickersham owns the building free and clear, so no one can make him cover it up. In fact, he says he'll have anyone who tries arrested. "After everything that happened to me: shooting my dog, and then they killed John T. Williams . . . I felt enough is enough," he says, mistaking WSP for Seattle Police. "WSP equals killers. It's true. She was here to come to kill me."
Yes, she was, Joe. Yes, she was . . .
So if you drive down Petrovitsky Road in Renton and see a stranger strain of graffiti than you're used to: smile, nod, sob, whatever. Just don't stop for legal advice.
UPDATE: After complying with a Seattle Weekly records request, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) turned over its 78-page investigative report into the shooting of Wickersham's dog, a three-year-old Doberman named Maggie.
In the end, the WDFW ruled that its officer, Wendy Willette, used "reasonable, necessary, justifiable, and legal" actions when she shot Maggie on August 14 of last year. Furthermore, WDFW Captain Bill Hebner, who wrote the report, states that Wickersham was unable to cooperate in the investigation. He also writes that Wickersham "is an admitted alcohol and drug abuser, he appears to be mentally unstable and emotionally unpredictable, he is quick to make assumptions, is quick to anger, and has a creative imagination."
According to Officer Willette's account, on the afternoon of the 14th she was on patrol at a WDFW public-access site on Lake Desire when she saw someone fishing off of a dock owned by Wickersham. By the time Willette drove to Wickersham's neighbor's house to investigate, she claims the person on the dock was no longer there. It was then that she approached Wickersham's house, where she says she loudly announced her presence while still in the yard only to be met by Maggie, who was "growling, snarling, barring [sic] its teeth" as she charged at Willette. Willette then reportedly fired two shots, hitting Maggie twice in the neck--one bullet just grazed the animal, the other penetrated and passed through. The dog would survive.
Later that same day, Wickersham made the first of what would be many calls to WDFW to say he'd be filing a complaint against Willette. In a voicemail, Wickersham derided Willette's "poor penmanship." He said she "had more f-bombs than some of the old trailer trash I used to date when I was dating people on drugs."
Four days later, Hebner received another call from Wickersham. The lawyer said that he was afraid Willette was part of a special law-enforcement task force that was trying to kill him and steal evidence from his house. "More disturbing," wrote Hebner in his report, "is that Mr. Wickersham is convinced that Wendy is determined to kill him and that even though the County has seized all his guns he will rearm himself and kill her if she comes onto his property."
On August 25, Hebner received the results of a records request with King County Animal Control. The agency outlined four separate incidents in which someone in Wickersham's neighborhood called to complain about a "vicious" Doberman that had bitten bicyclists and threatened children. On September 1, Hebner spoke with one of the neighbors who filed a complaint. The neighbor told Hebner that Wickersham's dog made him fear for his family's safety and that of his neighbor's kids.
"I'm proud of you guys for shooting that dog," the neighbor reportedly told Hebner. "You have restored my faith in government."
The last recorded incident in the WDFW's report is a phone message left by Wickersham on Hebner's work answering machine on October 2. In the prior month and a half, Wickersham had left Hebner 31 voicemail messages, nearly all of them either late at night or early in the morning. Despite the fact that Willette had been reassigned, Wickersham was not happy. As in other messages, he claimed that the police who had killed John T. Williams, the Native American carver shot to death in Seattle, had come looking for him too.
"You're the Devil's number-one fucker, aren't you, you cockroach, you piece of shit," Wickersham told Hebner in the audio recording.
The WDFW has no record of any further contacts. Today, through his attorney, Wickersham adamantly denies having told our reporter any of the statements attributed to him in the original blog item. Still unexplained is why huge red letters on the exterior of Wickersham's law office refer to WSP, and not Fish and Wildlife. Below are Wickersham's answers to four questions we asked regarding the report.