The dog walker who nearly died trying to thwart the armed robbery of Lady Gaga’s beloved French bulldogs described for grand jurors the exact moment he took a bullet in his chest while reaching for one of the panicked pets.
Ryan Fischer appeared at the secret grand jury proceeding in Los Angeles on Oct 26, 2021, a newly unsealed grand jury transcript obtained Thursday by Rolling Stone reveals. He testified that he was “confused at first” when the alleged dognappers now charged with his attempted murder jumped out of a car, pulled a gun and demanded he hand over the the singer’s three beloved dogs: Asia, Gustav and Koji.
“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,” he testified.
He said the man with the gun “threw” him into a concrete embankment and “began to choke me.” He hit the man with a bottle of champagne purchased at a nearby store, broke free and tried to lunge 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,” Fischer testified, saying he collapsed on the ground as his assailants fled the scene with Gustav and Koji in a white Nissan Sentra.
“I immediately tried to call for help but realized I was bleeding out of my lung and that I was losing more and more air quickly,” Fischer testified.
He described using hand signals to tell Asia to stay hidden during the attack. After he was shot, the dog ran to his side. While gasping for air, Fischer then “tried to project as much as possible in a calm manner to get people out of their houses to ask for help,” he testified.
Echoing what he told Rolling Stone in his first major interview after the terrifying attack, Fischer said the bullet ripped through his upper right torso, “right next to my brachial plexus and the collar bone area,” before it exited out his back under his shoulder blade. “It went through my lung because I was reaching forward, trying to grab Koji,” he said.
Fischer testified that he was rushed into surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and spent a week at the hospital under the fake name Randy Goodwin due to the media frenzy surrounding the case. He returned to the hospital two days after his release because his “lung had collapsed again.” After a “few” procedures with “chest tubes being placed in and out,” Fischer needed yet another major surgery, he testified.
“I consented to part of my lung being removed. The top third of my lung being removed as well as the bottom portion as well,” he told the grand jury. He said his recovery has been rocky. He still suffers from “breathing issues” and numbness in his chest and needs constant physical therapy to stop scar tissue from strangling the nerves affecting his mobility, especially in his right arm down to his fingers, he said. “When I go from the ground up to stand, I have to, I still get very close to passing out,” he testified. “So I have to take a moment with that.”
Fischer never referred to Lady Gaga by name during his lengthy examination. Asked at the start of his testimony if he was “a longtime friend of the pop singer Lady Gaga,” he answered simply, “I am.”
“Do you take care of her dogs when she’s out of town?” Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee asked. “I do,” he replied.
In her opening statement to grand jurors, Hanisee revealed new details of the case still unfolding in Los Angeles County Superior Court. “As you have learned, this is related to the shooting of Lady Gaga’s dog walker. Lady Gaga was not present, so she will not be testifying,” Hanisee said. “There is no evidence that you will hear that suggests the suspects knew these dogs belonged to Lady Gaga. All the evidence indicates that they were targeting French bulldogs due to the value of the breed and the desire to own that particular breed.”
Hanisee said the suspects charged with attempted murder — alleged shooter James Jackson, 19, and his alleged accomplices Jaylin White, 20, and Lafayette Whaley, 28 — were identified through an exhaustive investigation that uncovered surveillance video of the Nissan Sentra’s license plate captured at a nearby 7-Eleven and video of the rental car used to deliver the dogs to fellow defendant Jennifer McBride, the alleged friend of White’s dad who returned the dogs to police days later claiming she randomly found them tied to a pole.
Hanisee said cellular records show that a few hours before the shooting, phones belonging to Jackson, White and Whaley were detected traveling together in West Hollywood. She said Jackson’s phone was in Hollywood at 7:35 p.m. and then went dead, while White’s phone “was hitting on a cell tower” near the crime scene “around the time of the robbery.”
The prosecutor told the grand jury that White’s father, fellow defendant Harold White, admitted to investigators that “there were some dogs in my backyard at some point.”
Los Angeles Police Department Detective Eshter Myape testified after Fischer and told the grand jury that a .45 caliber handgun was recovered from a drawer in Harold White’s bedroom during a search last April 27.
Detective Christopher Marsden took the witness stand next and testified that a “unique” white object on the driver’s side dashboard helped investigators match the Nissan Sentra at the 7-Eleven to the crime. Marsden also said a text message that Whaley allegedly sent to the mother of his young daughter just hours after the shooting referenced the robbery and Jaylin White.
“We got dogs tonight he helped me get,” Whaley purportedly wrote in the text presented to the grand jury.
A hearing in the case scheduled for Thursday had to be postponed after Whaley refused to leave his jail cell, a judge confirmed after lawyers for the three main defendants as well as Harold White and Jennifer McBride appeared in court. The judge issued an “extraction order,” and reset the hearing for April 5.
Harold White and McBride have pleaded not guilty to being accessories after the fact and remain out of custody after posting bail in the case.
Last August, Fischer set up a GoFundMe to cover the costs of a “trauma recovery” road trip around the country. In an Instagram video posted March 13, he shared his regret over camping near a shooting range where the sound of gunfire crackled repeatedly through the air.
“So I learned a very valuable lesson today, that while I am on a budget, and I need to park at free places to go on this journey, quite possibly, camping at a gun range is not a good idea for my trauma recovery. You know, learning this as I go on. Maybe I should have thought about this,” he said.