JEFFERSON-Friends and family from across the country are rallying around a controversial former Ashe County Sheriff’s Office deputy charged with murder in last summer’s fatal officer involved shooting of Dallas Shatley.
Dozens of people took photos of themselves wearing blue shirts and posted them to the Facebook group, Standing Beside Hoppy, beginning Oct. 4. The move was designed to show support for Joshua Franklin “Hoppy” Hopkins, who was charged last week in connection with the July 8, 2015, shooting death of Shatley.
On Facebook, Arkansas resident Victoria Martin DeSpain called Hopkins “the most honest, caring…person,” and said Hopkins’ love for his job is evident.
“Back the blue,” DeSpain wrote online, a reference to police officers.
A grand jury was convened last week and Hopkins was charged Sept. 28, with second degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury. He turned himself in on Sept. 29, quickly posted a $250,000 secured bond and was given a December court date.
Hopkins, who was working as deputy with the Carter County, Tennesse Sheriff’s Office at the time of the indictment, was placed on administrative leave pending the resolution of his legal issues.
How’d we get here
Shatley allegedly confronted ACSO officers, including Hopkins, who were responding to a disturbance. The incident was reported around 10 p.m. in Crumpler on Shatley Road, just off of Highway 16.
According to previous statements by Ashe County Sheriff James Williams, a deputy was dragged by a vehicle driven by Shatley and shots were fired.
The ACSO said later that Deputies Christopher Roten, Brandon Miller and Hopkins had been involved in the incident, but the agency declined to say which of the deputies had allegedly been dragged prior to the shooting. The three deputies were placed on administrative leave, but were reinstated the week of Aug. 17, 2015.
A postmortem toxilogic analysis of Dallas Arthur Shatley, 62, detected elevated levels of ethanol – 150 mg/dl – in tissue taken from Shatley’s eye. That information comes from reports delivered to the Jefferson Post from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Ethanol is the active agent in beer, wine, vodka, whiskey, rum and other liquors. Shatley’s ethanol reading exceeded the legal limit of intoxication, which is 80 mg/dl, levels frequently associated with a loss of manual dexterity and with sedation, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In Sept. 2015, District Attorney Tom Horner announced that he would no longer be involved in the case due to his close relationship with the Shatley family. The case was then handed over to District Attorney Garry Frank of Davie and Davidson counties.
Now, Hopkins’ supporters have turned to an online fundraising campaign, hosted at OfficerDown.us, to help mount his legal defense. The page indicates he may need some $80,000 to see the case through its conclusion.
The page appears to describe Hopkins’ version of events from the night of the shooting. When the Jefferson Post attempted to reach out to Joel Clark Ackerman, who launched the fundraiser, he declined to comment.
“Due to your newspapers unfair and anti-police reporting on law enforcement issues, we will not be speaking with you,” Ackerman said. “This is a giant story that will go national when the time is right. This fight is to protect the rights and lives of all police officers. Good day.”
To date, the online campaign has raised more than 2,000 from more than 20 contributors over three days. The campaign can be viewed at https://officerdown.us/projects/innocent-deputy-faces-murder-charge
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058.