Family of Hillsdale County dog owner fatally shot by deputy demands body cam footage

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The family of a man fatally shot last month in Hillsdale County after a sheriff's deputy opened fire on his dog are calling for authorities to release body cam footage from the incident.

Romanucci & Blandin LLC, the Chicago-based law firm representing Oscar Herrera's relatives, said Monday its lawyers have contacted Michigan State Police, which is investigating the shooting, but were not successful in having investigators release the video.

Oscar Herrera

"There is no reason to not release any and all video footage immediately," said Ian Fallon, an attorney with the firm, in a statement Monday. 

"Body worn camera footage exists to both document police misconduct and honestly depict what happened. If the officer here believes he acted appropriately, there's no reason to not show the family the video. The family and the public have questions, the answers lie in the body worn camera footage."

Hillsdale County Sheriff's officials did not respond to a request for comment Monday on the case. 

Lt. Brian Oleksyk, a public information officer with the Michigan State Police's First District, told The Detroit News: "This is still an open and active investigation. MSP will not be releasing any video because this is considered evidence in our investigation. Once our investigation is complete, the report will be forward to the Hillsdale County Prosecutor’s Office for review."

The sheriff's deputy has been on administrative leave since the shooting on April 28.

He was dispatched to Herrera's home in the 6500 block of South Edon Road in Reading at about 7:45 p.m. that day on a "dog-at-large complaint," state police said.

"When the deputy made contact at the residence of the dog, the deputy was immediately attacked by the dog and bit" the deputy, police said. "The deputy fired shots at the dog, which resulted in killing the dog."

Herrera, 32, became upset about the shooting and confronted the deputy while armed with a knife, state police said. The deputy shot Herrera, who was pronounced dead at the scene, MSP said.

Investigators recovered a knife. 

The deputy was treated at a hospital for a dog bite then released.

Herrera's family, which is not giving interviews, "wants and deserves to know the facts of what happened during that deadly shooting, and the best way to be transparent is to release the body camera footage immediately,” Antonio Romanucci of  Romanucci & Blandin said in a statement Thursday.

“The family has asked officials to share the details of the deadly incident, including body camera footage, and we are troubled by their unwillingness to show the family and the public what transpired.”