Lady Gaga Dognapping Shooter Sentenced to More Than 2 Decades in Prison

Lady Gaga has received retribution for the dognapping that made headlines last year. The star's dog walker Ryan Fischer watched in a Los Angeles courtroom on Dec. 5 as the man who shot him for refusing to surrender her French bulldogs was sentenced to 21 years behind bars, Rolling Stone reports. As a result of a last-minute plea deal, prosecutors dropped related robbery and weapons charges. Immediately after James Howard Jackson, 20, pleaded no contest to attempted murder with great bodily injury and admitted to a prior strike, Fischer, 41, delivered an emotional victim impact statement. 

"I was beaten, strangled, shot and left to die, bleeding out on a sidewalk and gasping for my life," Fischer told Jackson. "You shot me and left me to die, and both of our lives have changed forever." Since the attack, Fischer said he experienced "lung collapse after lung collapse," continuing physical therapy, increasing debt, and losing his career, friendships, and identity. Despite this, he expressed forgiveness for the attacker.

"I do forgive you and everyone involved with the attack. You completely altered my life, and I know I can't completely move on from the night you shot me until I said those words to you." Fisher thanked Jackson for not harming or discarding the dogs during the "media storm" following their abduction. "They were returned to their mom. I don't think I could have lived with myself if they died." 

Jackson ambushed Fischer during a violent attack in Hollywood on the evening of Feb. 24, 2021, and shot him at close range with a .40-caliber handgun, prosecutors said. After noticing Fischer was walking three highly valuable French bulldogs, the gunman and his accomplices pursued him. Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee, who prosecuted the case, previously said the men had no idea the dogs, Asia, Gustav, and Koji, belonged to Gaga. Trying to save all three dogs, Fischer was shot, and the dog snatchers left in a white Nissan Sentra after grabbing Gustav and Koji.

Fischer said he was "confused at first" when the dognappers accosted him and ordered him to relinquish the three animals during a secret grand jury proceeding last year. "They pointed down to the dogs, that they wanted the dogs, and I said, 'No.' And I started to scream for help and tried to fight back," Fischer testified, according to a transcript obtained by Rolling Stone. During the struggle, he said the man with a gun threw him into a concrete embankment and started to choke him before he hit him with a bottle of champagne he had bought nearby. Fischer forced himself free and attempted to make a move for Koji. "The dog screamed at me, and I reached for him, and then the guy, the man with the gun shot me as I was reaching," he testified, describing his collapse on the ground after his attackers fled. The bullet passed through Fischer's upper right torso, "right next to my brachial plexus and collarbone area," before exiting his back under his shoulder blade. "It went through my lung because I was reaching forward, trying to grab Koji," he said.

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After being mistakenly released from custody in April, Jackson was recaptured in August. Following his own surprise plea deal four months earlier, his co-conspirator Jaylin White was sentenced to four years in jail. They were arrested along with Lafayette Whaley, 28, the third alleged dog-napper, in April 2021. In addition to White's father, Harold White, another co-defendant, his and White's alleged friend, Jennifer McBride, were charged as accessories after the fact. Harold White also accepted a plea deal Monday but did not receive a sentence. In exchange for a 16-month jail sentence, he pleaded no contest to being a felon in possession of a firearm. As for McBride, she is the one who voluntarily returned the dogs to police days after they were stolen. She claims she discovered them tied to a pole by chance and decided to help when she saw a reward available.