Man Charged With Misdemeanor For Fatally Punching Man Who Asked Him To Leash Dog

Matthew Oropeza (left) fatally punched Drew Justice (right) during a dispute in a dog park.

Philadelphia, PA – The man who delivered a fatal punch to another man in a South Philadelphia dog park on Saturday has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor.

The incident occurred when Matthew Thomas Oropeza, 24, was walking his dog at about 9 p.m. on Jan. 5, according to The Inquirer.

Drew Justice, 38, was also walking his dog in the park with his fiancé, Kristi Buchholz, and witnesses told police that he asked Oropeza to put a leash on his Shih Tzu.

Police said Oropeza took offense at Justice’s request, and punched him in the face, The Inquirer reported.

Justice fell backward and banged his head on the ground.

He was transported to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

The medical examiner’s office said his cause of death was blunt impact injury to the head, KYW reported.

On Thursday, Oropeza turned himself in to the police.

He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, simple assault, reckless endangerment of another person, and terroristic threats, which are misdemeanors.

Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor which shares the same maximum punishment as stealing $200 - a maximum of 5 years in prison.

The only witness to the incident other than Justice’s fiancé was a woman who said the altercation occurred out of the blue.

“Everything happened quickly. There was no grand argument or dramatic scuffle. Just several lives crossing at what has proven to be an irrevocably tragic moment in time,” she told KYW.

Neighbors of the park said they couldn’t believe a man was killed over a dog leash.

“I just don’t understand why someone would be so filled with rage to hit someone over something so insignificant,” Matt Murray told KYW.

The Inquirer reported that when Oropeza moved to the South Philadelphia neighborhood last summer, he already had a criminal record that included violence.

Court records showed he was arrested for fighting in Brookhaven in 2013, and pleaded guilty.

Oropeza was arrested again for fighting in 2016 in Ridley Township.

On that occasion, the disorderly conduct charges and accompanying drug misdemeanors were dismissed after he completed a diversionary program, The Inquirer reported.

Comments (42)
No. 1-25
Det_John_Kimble
Det_John_Kimble

You mean to tell me there is a state in this union that actually has a misdemeanor manslaughter charge? Hopefully the other charges carry 5 years each and he's convicted on all of them and given the max on them if he's guilty.

cookydeacon
cookydeacon

Yep.The new DA a real crime fighter.

J10107
J10107

This is an example of our LAZY District Attorney, Lawrence Krasner, who should go back to common pleas court, practicing civil law, or civil rights law because that's the platform our minority majority voted him in on !!!

So whomever's responsible for voting for this POS, should be extremely happy that the District Attorney of Philadelphia couldn't establish a case of murder or even aggravated assault that carries 10 years in jail, against some dirt-ball with a long history of violence in the City of Brotherly Love !!!

And while gangs and felons continue to murder babies in our streets, you all better hope that the Philadelphia Police continue to hand the District Attorney air tight cases, because if we have to watch the District Attorney try and handle another senseless Murder.......the City of Philadelphia might turn into the Wild West where Exodus 21:23-25: “If there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, or tooth for tooth," becomes the law of the streets !!!

MrsS
MrsS

A MISDEMEANOR? SERIOUSLY? I guess we started turning into a banana republic ten or so years ago...now we're just cementing our reputation..sheesh

fishermanpat2
fishermanpat2

This is why things are getting out of control.

JLo1
JLo1

If "involuntary manslaughter" is a "misdemeanor", then it's a good call... Because I doubt he intened to kill the guy from a punch... It's definetly involuntary manslaughter!!

DSmith2018
DSmith2018

So would the same charge be true for DUI where a death occurred! Five years and a $200 fine for driving drunk but didn’t mean to kill anyone? Life is starting to mean nothing! Almost time for dispensing our own justice

amdguru
amdguru

Ridiculous, this Oropeza has anger issues and needs to be in prison, not walking the streets. He may or may not have intended to kill Justice, but his actions caused the death and he needs to be charged with felonies. What the hell is wrong with people?

Skidoo
Skidoo

This is a good example of how many dog owners will react when asked to control man's best friend. Approach dog owners with caution.

Bobholly79
Bobholly79

Get a life Skiddo Nice broad brush you paint with!! All dog owners are violent!

You are what is wrong with people today!

As far as a misdemeanor What a miscarriage of justice!!

THEDUKE
THEDUKE

Quote-"The Inquirer reported that when Oropeza moved to the South Philadelphia neighborhood last summer, he already had a criminal record that included violence. Court records showed he was arrested for fighting in Brookhaven in 2013, and pleaded guilty. Oropeza was arrested again for fighting in 2016 in Ridley Township".

Quite the track record for Oropeza but to give him an additional slap on the wrist will do nothing but encourage his sick/troubled behaviors. He is a person who is on the fringe of being out of control ( if not already there)..He obviously needs to play "Tuf Guy" with something meaningless to prove....So society/law enforcement /courts needs to control these "outbursts" or they will continue to occur. Shut him down and do it now. How many examples do the courts need?

Stanracer
Stanracer

With this guys record misdemeaner charges are ridiculous. He should go to prison for at least 10 years.

JBo
JBo

Hmmmm. Nice to know that Philadelphia is serious about crime.

Achmsons
Achmsons

What a shame a life lost so such an insignifcant request

Heatherlynn
Heatherlynn

How could this happen in the "City of Brotherly Love"?

Jcallis
Jcallis

Sounds like he has anger issues, a few years in prison and I'm sure someone will work that out of him.

CAOmbudsman
CAOmbudsman

Hopefully, Justice finds justice.

Ngtowl1966
Ngtowl1966

But if it was a law abiding citizen with a concealed gun,with permit they’d probably attempt to charge him with a felony “the guy that died have you”

Lmb
Lmb

Get it correct, or dont bother reporting it at all.. The pitbull was the off leash dog.. Witnesses told police that Justice and his fiancee, Kristi Buchholz, were walking their black Shih Tzu shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday in the park — bounded by Wharton, Marshall, Manton and Sheridan Streets between Sixth and Seventh Streets — when Justice asked Oropeza, who was walking his dog, a pitbull to put a leash on his animal. Oropeza took offense, police said, and punched Justice in the face. Justice then fell backward and hit his head on the ground. He was pronounced dead at 9:51 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Gretagarbo
Gretagarbo

I hope this creep gets hit with the worst of karma. He’s a danger to society. I hope the victims family sues him in civil court too. This is so tragic. I hope someone kills his damn pitt bull too since he doesn’t care about intimidating other dog owners. Better yet, I hope the Pitt bull turns on him. I’m sick and tired of the la know justice in this world. Why the h would this be a misdemeanor? It’s shocking that you can punch someone in the face and not even be charged with aggravated assault. Maybe these assh prosecutors need to be punched in the face. Then we’ll see how they feel about it.

Tsuneladi
Tsuneladi

Karma doesn't exist because God DOES exist.

hampshire
hampshire

Omg. I agree about pit bull being off lead but to smack someone 😳😳😳 I just pick my little one up and no eye contact with dog off lead. Pit bulls are wonderful dogs but if anoth, like my small yapoer challenges” best to turn and scram 🤭

SICKOFITALL
SICKOFITALL

FUCK THIS WAS MURDER, CHARGE THE DAMN BASTARD WITH MURDER AND GIVE HIM THE DEATH SENTENCE.

serveandprotect
serveandprotect

A MISDEMEANOR? After he's already had arrests for fighting? WTF is wrong w/these people? Obviously the "diversionary program" is worthless.

User2
User2

His fiancee can sue this punk and I hope she puts his foul butt in the gutter like the snake he is, darn POS.