More questions than answers concerning shooting incident involving Potter County JP Rich Herman
On 3-27-17, a Special Crimes Unit investigator was contacted by a detective from a law enforcement agency in another state. That detective had received information from a witness that a Potter County Justice of the Peace Rich Herman of Amarillo had posted photos of himself on social media treating a wound after being shot.
In the photos, Herman was holding a white cloth with red stains on it against his shoulder. Herman commented with the photos that he had been shot in the shoulder and was treating the injury himself.
The witness contacted law enforcement because they were concerned that this was evidence of a crime. A SCU investigator viewed the photographs and recognized Potter County Justice of the Peace Richard Herman.
On 3-28-17, the investigator made contact with Judge Herman. Herman confirmed that the photographs were of him and that he had been shot. He had not wished to make a police report.
Herman told the investigator that at around midnight Sunday night/Monday morning, he was walking in an area believed to be near 6th and S. Louisiana. He saw two males assaulting a third male in the alley just west of a bar and stopped to intervene.
During the incident, Herman heard a shot and realized that he had been shot in the shoulder. Herman said the three men fled down the alley.
Herman was not able to determine the source of the gunshot and could not provide a description of the three individuals.
"When he stepped in to intervene he heard a gunshot and at that point realized he had been shot.
"The three people in the alley, according to him, left in different direction. He didn't have any information on who these people were and couldn't, at the time, offer a description of what the people looked like.
"It's been brought up there is a penal code statute that people who have knowledge of a felony should report it. That decision whether or not it would apply in this case would lie wholly with the prosecutor who reviewed the case," Amarillo Police Sgt. Brent Barbee said.
Amarillo police detectives have been assigned to the case. There have been no arrests.
Potter County Attorney Scott Brumley said his office is not currently investigating Herman,
"Quite frankly we haven't had a situation where we've been presented with credible evidence that would require us to proceed on it. We are waiting to see what comes up in this case and where that leads us, that's where we will go.
"There are certainly a lot of questions about the case that need to be resolved given the profile of the person involved as well as the seriousness of what happened.
"Anytime someone is shot, that's a serious matter that needs to be thoroughly investigated in order to see what, if any, crime as been committed and how that needs to be handled through the criminal justice system," Brumley said.
Anytime an incident like this involves a public official, it's a big deal. A shooting involving a sitting Justice of the Peace takes it to a whole new level.
Herman does many great things for the veterans and youth in the Amarillo community. He also does many things from the bench to help people who have gone astray a bit to get there lives back on course. This makes it even more urgent and important for him to publicly address the questions and mystery surrounding him being shot.
Why did Herman not report being shot to the police? Why did he not seek medical treatment and attempt to care for the wound himself?
These are two of the biggest questions Herman must address to help clear up some of the mystery concerning this case.