Man sentenced in hate crime offense against Edmonds animal control officer

Snohomish County Courthouse. (Photo by Joe Mabel/Wikimedia)

A 36-year-old man was sentenced last week in Snohomish County Superior Court to nine months in prison in connection with a hate crime offense against an Edmonds animal control officer.

Sean Robert Wagner, of Cle Elum and Port Orchard, was found guilty during a jury trial for the Oct. 29, 2021, incident in which he “maliciously and intentionally” threatened then-Edmonds Animal Control Officer Tabatha Shoemake, a Black woman, based on his perception of her race and putting her in “reasonable fear of harm.”

As we reported in our earlier story, the incident began at approximately 4:30 p.m. on April 14, 2021 when Edmonds police were dispatched to the Travel Lodge Motel in 23800 block of Highway 99 to investigate reports of dogs that had been “howling for two days” from inside a truck parked at the motel.  Attempts to contact the owner of the truck were unsuccessful.

Officers checked the temperature inside the truck. Because it exceeded 100 degrees, they decided to seize the dogs and bring them to the Lynnwood PAWS shelter. Police left a note on the truck informing the owner of this action with a contact number for the shelter.

Wagner contacted PAWS that same afternoon after the shelter had closed and spoke with Officer Shoemake, who was still there after dropping off the dogs. When she told him he could pick up his dogs when the shelter reopened in the morning, he became angry, used profanity and hung up the phone.

Rather than wait until the following morning, Wagner drove directly to the shelter. He arrived at approximately 6:30 p.m., when he began pounding on the locked doors and windows.  Shoemake was still in the shelter, and after calling for police backup left the building to confront Wagner in the parking lot.  He immediately became aggressive, used profanity and the n-word, and told her to “go back to Africa.”  According to police reports, he approached Shoemake to within arm’s length, “clenching his fists and showing his teeth while spewing profanity and racial epithets,” threatening that “we are going to get you and we will fix this” and to “kick your [Shoemake’s] ass.”

At this point, police backup arrived and took Wagner into custody. After investigations were complete, Snohomish County prosecutors charged him with a felony hate crime under Washington State Law RCW 9A.36.080.

Wagner was sentenced on Nov. 29 to nine months in prison.

— By Larry Vogel

  1. Sets a dangerous precedent, although I agree the man’s actions deserve some punishment it seems worse behavior goes largely unpunished but words will get you locked up for 90 days. I guess next government will be showing up and arresting you for negative views of their actions. I would have given him 90 days for mistreatment of the dogs and a additional 30 for the fuss at paws. The problem is the reason for the prosecution. Hate crime hardly.

    1. He used hate speech in his attack on her, an officer of the law to boot. Stop making excuses for that man.

    2. If you want to support an argument on far-fetched “I guess” statements, you haven’t got much of an argument at all. Hate crimes exist, and they are both real and often violent. A safe and inclusive society cannot tolerate them. Thoughts are of course something entirely different.

      1. Nathaniel I am with you if we were to hold bad actors accountable for a lot of reasons we would be better off. But is language the crime we should prosecute for? And not prosecute his other crimes? Should verbally disrespecting officers constitute a greater crime than the reason the officers were there to begin with? If so fine just make it so for all officers. Since this is a common place offence against law enforcement should we just start loading the jails? Personally we would be better off but the demographics of the accused might not be the desired result from such a action. I would prefer those arrested face the consequences of their actions and not the derogatory language they used. Because everyone that feels wronged is likely to engage in derogatory behavior when faced with government actions. I myself have had negative words for officers. I found it didn’t help my cause and now it seems the words spoken in anger are going to be the reason for prosecution even if our physical actions are overlooked.. strange new world.

        1. Threats of physical violence do not and never have fallen under free speech protections.

    3. All of Jim’s arguments support building a regional jail on the Landmark 99 property let’s lock up the criminals before we realize what the true crime stats indicate, crime is out of control in Edmonds the murder rate has doubled on the hwy 99 corridor along with every other crime stat. With the expected growth in the coming years let’s get ahead the crime in are communities and really make edmonds and surrounding communities safe the city councils current cross are fingers and hope it gets better outlook is going to cost lives. Let’s focus on safe grocery stores safe schools and a city of vulnerable seniors, it seems a real police presence along 99 is needed .All you need to do take a look at Seattle and all of the failures that make Seattle a living hell.

    4. Are you serious? What a terrifying situation for her to be threatened and intimidated with yelling and behavior that would make anyone uncomfortable and unsafe. He didn’t only get angry at her for being a police officer, he got angry because she was a black woman and threatened to get her and kick her ass! You suggesting punishing only for the treatment of the dogs is ludicrous and heartless as though anyone should be able to come up to any other person and say and do the things he did without punishment. You are a perfect example of why there is domestic violence against women, human trafficking, and men getting away with intimidation and threatening behavior for so long.

    5. It’s deeply disappointing that you argue for more punishment for his behavior towards his dogs than for his behavior towards a human being. His behavior was appalling, and would have been terrifying on its own even if he hadn’t made racist statements.

      I admire the courage Officer Shoemake had to exit the building when police were still on their way; I regret the racist and antisocial behavior she had to face as a result. I think the sentencing judge made the right call.

  2. Virginia I don’t think you understand. I suggest more jail time and to go further I would have suggested a high bail as to try to keep him in jail. Put the shoe on the other foot. If it was a black or brown person that denigrated a white female officer in the same way would you ask for the same sentence? I can guarantee officers face derogatory racial epithets every day committed by every race. Should all these people face a racial repercussion as well? Careful what you wish for. Should we disregard gun enhancements but enhance derogatory language? Somewhere we have become lost if that is the case.

  3. WPIC CHAPTER 35. Assault and Reckless Endangerment

    [An assault is [also] an act[, with unlawful force,] done with the intent to create in another apprehension and fear of bodily injury, and which in fact creates in another a reasonable apprehension and imminent fear of bodily injury even though the actor did not actually intend to inflict bodily injury.]

  4. Jim- the article makes it sound like the hate crime was not just hate speech. Sounds like his word choices revealed that his physical threats were motivated by his hatred of black people, which is what elevates his crime from just “attempting to assault an officer” to specifically attempting to assault her because she is black. This is maybe what elevates the charges from just the CRIME to HATE CRIME. He is not in jail for his words, but his words provided context for his crime in a way that revealed his motivation. This is not the slippery slope to government locking you up for dissent, although that sadly does happen here in the US too too often.

  5. Jim I agree with you. We have people attacking others with a ax and let out of jail..over crowding etc. (happened at Fred Meyer employee) the jail systems are a open door. I think the guy is unstable for sure. But it was only verbal. Women are in fear of nut cases husbands or boyfriends that threaten murder and they can do nothing until husband or other kill or attack (physical) them. Why this?

  6. So we have a person who we all agree acted in a very inappropriate way and he got 90 days and at the same time you have college students treating their fellow classmates in a Similar way. Why are we not arresting and charging these people with hate crimes? Hipocricy is apparent.

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