The Wrongful Death of Patrick Wayne Wetter

Tiny - Posted on 06 January 2016

by Lisa Ganser

Patrick Wetter, brother, son, mechanic, long-time friend to many, and loving uncle, was just 25 years old, and living with his father, when he was brutally killed by Stockton police on January 6, 2015.  Patrick's death, unlike his life, was extremely violent.  A police dog was sicked on him, he endured six gunshots to his trunk, he was struck with a tazer.  In life, Patrick stood 6 foot 5 inches tall, and his friends and family refer to him as a “gentle giant” and he had the nickname of Tiny.  When he was little his older siblings and parents called him “pokie bear,” and when Patrick was “in trouble” his mother Holly addressed him with his full name of Patrick Wayne Wetter.  Patrick Wayne Wetter went out fighting for his life and died on the floor of his neighbor's home wearing handcuffs and in a pool of his own blood.


[image description:  Patrick, a white man in his early 20s stands tall in a white football jersey with the number 32 on the front, he has a beard on the bottom of his chin, a mustache and a round belly.  He has a crew cut, a sweet smile and a tiny birthday hat on the very top of his head.  He is surrounded by green trees and grass at a birthday party for himself and his young niece Gabby in 2012]

Only Patrick Wetter knows why he (allegedly) kicked in the door of his next door neighbor’s home, people he knew, one year ago today, which prompted them to call 911 on him.  When the police arrived, they claim they could see Patrick inside “trying to force his way into a bedroom,” where his neighbors were “barricaded.”  Police say they ordered Patrick to “stop and surrender” and when he “did not comply” the first thing officers on the scene did was release a K9 police dog to attack Patrick.  

The Stockton Police Department have a reputation for excessive use of force, specifically when it comes to police dogs, their K9 units.  There are many instances of the Stockton K9 dogs let loose to maul and attack people, in an unnecessary abuse of force.  In November of 2014 a young Black teenager named James Smith was profiled by officer Houston Sensabaugh (an officer who has killed at least two people on the job).  James, who is Disabled and whose disabilities include Cerebral Palsy, was in a crisis and needed help.  Instead of getting help, Sensabaugh escalated the situation, and aggressively subdued and handcuffed James.  Sensabaugh then released a department K-9, which first attacked a neighbor, Patrina Walker (a bystander), before mauling James, who was down on the ground on his belly in handcuffs.  James and his neighbor Patrina survived the attack.  James has huge scars on his torso and now suffers from PTSD.

Police training is in the use and science of Force rather than de-escalation.  What about the training of the K9s?  What would cause these dogs to attack bystanders and how are these animals treated by Stockton Police?  In June 2015 a police dog named Nitro was left in a hot squad car by a Stockton police officer, and died.  The police narrative mourned the loss of the dog and took no responsibility for the dog's death, and never named the police officer responsible for leaving Nitro in a hot car to die.  This endangerment of K9 life could provide insight into the violent behavior of the dogs.

The police narrative of the brutal killing of Patrick Wetter is easy to find in the mainstream press, framed as police killings are, as an “officer involved shooting” rather than a killing.  The reporting does not investigate those that did the killing at all (the police) and it criminalizes Patrick.  According to the “official statements” by the Stockton Police Department, officers Gabriel Guerrero and Mark Afanasev are the shooters that killed Patrick, and the K9 police dog involved is named Rocky.  The report says that Guerrero and Afanasev were given three days of paid vacation after killing Patrick and are back on the force.  The report states that when Patrick was being attacked by Rocky, he produced a “Dirk or Dagger,” and that he stabbed the police K9 in the shoulder area.”  They claimed Patrick to be in “close proximity with the two officers, then raised the knife over his head in a threatening manner.”   Guerrero and Afanasev then unloaded at least 6 bullets into Patrick's trunk, and he fell to the floor.  The police claim that Patrick fell “still holding the knife in his hand.”  The narrative continues, “Another Officer then deployed a taser striking the suspect. The suspect was then handcuffed and Officers administered first aid and CPR. Medics arrived and took over CPR and then pronounced the suspect deceased at the residence,” the report states.  It seems odd that first aid or CPR could be administered to someone in handcuffs.  The report also claims Patrick to be a “gang member” and talks about his criminal past.  It described his small clip on pocket knife as a “Dirk or Dagger,” and vaguely described the size saying “the blade was curved and appeared to be 3 to 4 inches in length.”

Patrick's mom, Holly Quigley-Papke, said yes he carried a little pocket knife that he used as a tool for a lot of things and that the closest he ever came to being in a gang was that one of his favorite shirts was red.  She also said that in 2014 at the time of his arrests, Patrick was struggling and spent some time homeless.  Holly says that the arrests for “Dirk and Dagger” and resisting arrest happened when he was profiled for being Poor.  The two arrests on the SPD report happened within a month and a half of each other, and these two arrests are what the SPD are stating that establish Patrick as a life-long “criminal.”  Holly says Patrick got into a little bit of trouble and that he was no criminal.  She says Patrick spent a lot of time with his nephews and friends, and that he loved fishing.  She said he really loved being an Uncle.  Patrick's sister Suzan said that Patrick was “one English class away from having his diesel mechanics degree.”  She said Patrick “always kept in contact with his high school friends, along with making new ones along the way.

Patrick had a tight knit group of friends he kept since youth.  One of those friends is Anthony McHenry, Anthony's mom Roseanne Kimball wrote this about Patrick's wrongful death, in response to the mainstream media articles about Patrick:

First of all, calling him a prowler was off base. He lived right next door. I was told by his sister that the person that he was looking for, was a young man who also lived in the home, who was not supposed to be living there with foster children, as he has a criminal record. Yet, in one news blurb that I read, it stated that someone thought he might be after the teenage girls, as they had grown up. The news reported that it was a group home, when in actuality it was a family home that had a couple of foster children living there.

I, nor his family, are condoning the fact that he broke into the home, but to shoot him not once, but SIX times goes beyond (what was) justified in such a small space.

My concerns as follows:

He was very tall, approximately 6 ft 5 inches. From photos that I saw of the dog wounds, (on foot, and on back) he would have to have bent pretty far down to stab. Why were 2 policemen unable to subdue him with nightsticks, flashlights, etc…while he was bent over stabbing the dog, if indeed this was the case?

Patrick had at least three bad dog bites on his leg. That almost surely would have taken him down, or at the very least stumbling and in extreme pain. If he was down, how could he have lunged at the officers to the point where they feared for their lives? Why were they shooting weapons when civilians were so close? Not one news agency reported the damage the dog did on his leg, which is when he produced his pocket knife and (allegedly) stabbed the dog.

The family states that the blood had pooled in Patrick’s face, which would have occurred had he been lying face down.  How was CPR purportedly administered if he was face down?

Are officers not trained to use less than lethal force? Especially against someone WITHOUT a violent past? Is that not why they are physically trained to be able to take someone down? Why not taze him, pepper spray him, or use another method to subdue him? He had no gun, and the dog was not gravely injured.”

Stockton Police radio transmissions show how fast Patrick's killing happened.  In a matter of a couple minutes of police arriving, Patrick was terrorized by a dog, defended himself, was shot six times, then tazed, then handcuffed, then supposedly given first aid and CPR.  Rather than talking with Patrick, or trying to de-escalate the situation, Stockton police officers used violence as the first and final plan of action.  Patrick Wayne Wetter, Loved One lost to police violence, is missed the most by his family and close friends.  


note:  The family of Patrick Wetter have asked that today, on January 6th, 2016, the one year angelversary of Patrick's death, that members of the community light a candle to remember Patrick, and to honor all of those that have been lost to police brutality.


Here is the facebook event for the January 6, 2016 call to action candlelight vigil


Here is the facebook Justice for Patrick Wetter page  


#JusticeforPatrickWetter #PatrickWetter #Justice4PatrickWetter #LovedOnes #IdrissStelleyFoundation #POORmagazine


Lisa Ganser is a white Disabled genderqueer artist displaced from San Francisco and now living in Olympia, WA.  They are the daughter of a momma named Sam and this is their second story as a writer for POOR Magazine.


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