Comment and controversy continue to swirl around the Aug. 10 shooting of a dog by Cleburne police officer Kevin Dupre.
Attention directed Cleburne and the Cleburne Police Department’s way on social media since Friday has proved largely negative, a handful of CPD supportive comments aside.
Recently released video of the shooting spread throughout social media sites over the weekend, raising questions and spurring many to call for Dupre’s termination.
View the 22-second video and two others released by CPD in the related items of this story.
A city news conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today, Mayor Scott Cain and City Manager Rick Holden said Monday. Queries to CPD were referred to Cain who on Monday said he is handling all public information requests on the matter.
A Facebook page, Demand Justice for the Dog Cleburne Police Killed, has announced a protest at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in front of CPD.
Justice 4 Maximus, a Facebook page dedicated to the pit bull shot, which went online Friday, logged 10,293 likes over the weekend.
Dupre, Cain said, was placed on paid administrative leave on Friday, pending the findings of investigations underway.
The first investigation, conducted by CPD’s Professional Standards Unit, is already underway, Cain said.
That review focuses on whether Dupre followed departmental policies during the incident, Cain said, and whether department policies regarding police encounters with dogs need to be changed.
The Texas Rangers have also been asked to conduct a separate investigation into the matter, Cain said. City officials have not heard back from the Rangers as of Monday.
Should the Rangers agree to review and investigate the matter, they will determine whether or not any criminal charges should be brought, Cain said.
“We’re also talking to another possible, independent, group about doing a review,” Cain said. “Because we understand that many question the police department investigating their own, we want to make sure we get a thorough, unbiased investigation and review into the matter to ensure people can have confidence in the results.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean everyone’s going to like the findings, but I want to make clear that we’re going to have an independent and legitimate investigation and let the chips fall where they may.”
Cain said he does not know how long the investigations will take.
“I realize everyone wants this completed quickly and promptly,” Cain said. “But we want to go through a thorough process and make sure the officer is given proper due process, that all the videos, evidence and information is analyzed and looked at. Again, we also want to look at our policies to determine if they’re appropriate or if changes are needed.”
The 22-second video shot from Dupre’s body camera viewpoint was posted to Facebook late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
Dupre responded to a dog complaint call at 4:12 p.m. Aug. 10 on Lindsey Lane. The caller told dispatch that she and another woman were trapped in their car because of loose, aggressive pit bulls.
Dupre, according to the police report, arrived to find a black and white pit, later identified as Dough Boy, running loose in the street. The dog approached when Dupre made kissing noises and proved to be friendly. A neighbor subsequently retrieved Dough Boy and returned him to his back yard.
Dupre cleared the call and began searching for the other two loose dogs finding them a few minutes later, according to the report.
“The dogs were a long distance from me and I could not tell they were dogs at the time, due to tall grass and other obstructions,” Dupre writes in the report. “I exited my squad to confirm that they were the reported dogs. The dogs came to me with their tails wagging, and did not immediately seem to be aggressive.
“However, when the dogs came within 20 feet of me, one of them (brown male) crouched low and took an aggressive posture and began growling. The other dog (female) appeared nervous. I made kissing noises in an attempt to calm the dogs. I was standing outside the ditch and it [the dog] was in the ditch. I raised my duty weapon to the ready position pointed at the growling dog’s head. As soon as I lifted my pistol, the dog began coming up the hill, continuing to growl and display its teeth. The other dog began backing away. I fired three shots at it. It rolled back into the ditch and died.
“The other dog remained with me, and I continued to display my weapon in case it began to approach. The dog remained at a safe distance. [Animal control] arrived on scene and took possession of the live dog and the dead dog. [Animal control] advised that the female in the pair was in heat, possibly explaining the unprovoked aggressive behavior of the male.”
Many who have since watched the 22-second video contend the pictures of the two dogs, Maximus and Coco, approaching with tails wagging to the sound of Dupre’s call doesn’t jibe with Dupre’s assertions in his report.
CPD officials on Friday said the short video does not tell the whole story of what happened that day. CPD Detective Kelly Summey, in the same Friday release, said Dupre was trying to secure the two dogs until animal control arrived when one of the dogs became aggressive.
Others have commented that neither dog appears to be aggressive at any time in the video.
Maximus was about 6 months old, his owner, Amanda Henderson, said on Monday. Coco is about 7 months old while Dough Boy is about a year old.
Henderson disputes two assertions in the police report.
Coco was not in heat as the report claims, she said.
Henderson said her dogs do not run around loose in the neighborhood either, as one witness is said to have told Dupre in the report.
“They’re not out ever unless we’re walking them or they’re with us in the yard,” Henderson said. “There are a lot of dogs and a lot of pit bulls around here and that person was confusing our dogs with other dogs.”
Henderson said she and her husband were shopping for school supplies and clothes for their children when the incident occurred. A family friend and neighbor, the woman who put Dough Boy back in the yard, was baby sitting Henderson’s children while she and her husband were out, she said.
“When the police report says [the neighbor] was being evasive and the kids were going back and forth between the houses, that’s because we live next to each other,” Henderson said.
Her children, Henderson said, went to water the dogs and apparently failed to latch the gate all the way, which led to their escape from the yard.
Henderson said she doesn’t blame the women who called the police. All three of the dogs are friendly, Henderson said, while at the same time admitting that Dough Boy is large, which may have appeared intimidating to the women.
The shooting of Maximus makes no sense and doesn’t add up, Henderson said.
“You see the dogs are happy and playing, they don’t even realize [Dupre] is there until he calls them over,” Henderson said. “They say there’s more to the story, but there’s no more there.
“There’s no reason he couldn’t have used a tranquilizer, pepper spray, a taser instead. I’d been happy to take the ticket instead of him killing Maximus. It’s heartbreaking. The dogs sit and play with our children. They’re part of our family, and I had to explain to the kids that the police shot our dog.”
Cain reiterated that the investigation will look for the best way to handle officer and dog encounters in the future, adding that officers may well undergo training to prepare for such situations in the future.
Cain said CPD presently offers no such training for its officers as far as he knows.
Several argued that CPD and the city began investigating the matter solely of the video. Not true, Cain said.
“Both happened,” Cain said. “When the incident occurred the patrol supervisor reviews the incident.”
Cain said CPD and the city had no contact with the family until the video posted on Thursday night and that the release of the video prompted the current investigation.
Henderson said she never received a satisfactory answer from CPD on why her dog was shot, which is why she finally requested the video.
“I don’t know,” Henderson said when asked what she and her family plan next. “We just want to see justice done. What happened to Maximus was just wrong.”
Henderson said she and her family greatly appreciate the support received from many in Cleburne and around the world.
CPD supplied the Times-Review with three videos of the incident on Friday. There appears to be a gap between the first video, in which Dupre encounters Dough Boy and talks to Henderson’s neighbor, and the 22-second shooting video.
Dupre, Cain said, had cleared the first call. The reason the video picks up later, Cain said, is that Dupre was searching for but did not locate the two other dogs for about 20 minutes.
Welcome to Cleburne
Cain said he welcomes people to Cleburne on Saturday to exercise their Constitutional right to gather, protest and air their views.
“We understand this is a very emotional issue for many,” Cain said. “But we’re going to conduct the investigation and not jump to conclusions and not let the proper process play out. We welcome anyone to come here but any demonstration or protests must be peaceful and we’re going to be very mindful of public safety. We’ve had death threats against this officer, which we take very seriously and which will not be tolerated.
“We need to remember we live in America which honors the rule of law and the process of freedom and we will not tolerate vigilantism.”