A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of a plaintiff in a case against an officer who admitted a man’s dog didn’t pose a threat before he shot and killed it.
Austin police officer Daniel Walsh said Shiner Bock, the dog, “was just kinda walking at me, he wasn’t, he didn’t, I mean . . .’before breaking off the end of his sentence,” an officer at the scene heard him say, according to the lawsuit.
On April 24th in 2013, Julian Reyes was at his artist-warehouse preparing his art for an event at Eeyore’s Birthday Party, an annual party in Austin, when he heard gunshots.
When Reyes walked outside to investigate, Austin officers Walsh and Christopher Anderson, forced him to the ground at gunpoint and handcuffed him, frisking him and searching his truck and storage unit – even though was not suspected of a crime.
While handcuffed, Reyes repeatedly asked officers what happened to his dog, who he’d noticed bleeding.
Eventually officer Anderson stated, “your dog is dead.”
He later learned Walsh had shot and killed him while investigating “banging noise” that ended up being a piece of loose tin blowing in the wind.
According to the lawsuit, police had already determined the noise was caused from ‘loose siding blowing in the wind’ when Walsh drove his vehicle onto private property, parked and approached Reyes’ storage unit on foot.
When he got closer to the unit, he heard Shiner Bock bark and saw the dog standing outside the unit.
According to the police report, officer Walsh then shouted to the dog, “Don’t move! Get back!”
Bock barked again, and Walsh shot him several times in the chest.
The dog then bled to death as Reyes watched.
United States Judge Robert Pitman allowed eight of ten of Reyes’ civil rights claims to go forward. His order was issued and filed on April 20th.
The lawsuit names Austin officer Daniel Walsh, officer Christopher, as well as Police Chief Hubert “Art” Acevedo and City Manager, Marc Ott in their ‘individual capacities’.
Reyes’ initial complaint alleged his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when police performed warrantless searches on his storage unit, truck and person and that his detainment, as well as the violent shooting death of his dog, constitute unconstitutional seizures and unreasonable searches of his self and his property.
It also alleged that Chief Hubert “Art” Acevedo and City Manager Ott, “formulated, approved, and put into effect an inadequate training program regarding the use of force against animals.”
The judge’s order means the evidence and testimony about the claims will be heard at a future date after more evidence becomes available. But it’s not looking good for Austin police, a department that shot and killed 21 dogs in 2012 alone.
Judge Pitman denied two of Reyes’ claims of negligence against the City of Austin regarding failure to develop proper policies regarding use of force against dogs.
We caught up with Reyes to talk about what happened that day as well his thoughts about the lawsuit, which he filed pro se to preserve the statute of limitations after things with his lawyer didn’t work out.
He was later appointed an attorney after claiming indigence. We’ll keep you updated as the case moves along. You can also follow his case on his Facebook page, Support for Shiner Bock.