Hawkins residents raise concerns after police officer fatally shoots barking dog

Hawkins residents raise concerns after police officer fatally shoots barking dog

NOTE: This story contains content that may be disturbing, discretion is advised.

HAWKINS, Texas (KETK) – Some Hawkins residents are voicing concerns after an officer fatally shot a dog earlier this month while responding to a call.

Bodycam footage, which has since circulated around social media, has some Hawkins residents up in arms regarding the officer’s use of lethal force.

Longview high seniors barred from graduation following ‘senior prank’

Bodycam video obtained by KETK shows three dogs barking in front of a mother and her teenage son. The officer whistles to get the attention of the dogs, who first approach with wagging tails before starting to bark.

An officer is heard telling the dogs to “get” and shouting “back, back” as the dogs approached him while barking. Bodycam footage shows him firing his gun once, causing the leading dog to fall to the ground writhing and whining loudly. When the dog stands and hobbles towards the officer again, the officer fires twice more, killing the animal.

<em>Bodycam footage from moments before the officer fires his weapon at the dog.</em>
Bodycam footage from moments before the officer fires his weapon at the dog.

The incident happened May 2 near the intersection of Humble and Estelle streets. On May 17, the police department issued an official statement, saying the dog “exhibited aggressive behavior towards the officer, lunging and barking aggressively” and that the officer acted “in accordance with training and protocol.”

Want to stay overnight with giraffes? New East Texas inn will offer unique animal encounters

“The Hawkins Police Department stands by the actions of our officer, who acted courageously
and decisively in the face of a dangerous situation to protect the citizens of this community,” their statement read.

The officer was not identified by police, but did tell residents on the bodycam footage his name was Shaun Smith.

Bodycam footage obtained by KETK shows the incident unfold:

Residents in the video can be heard saying “the dog came after us and him” and another resident said, “I’ve seen them running around here.”

Witnesses said the neighborhood has had issues with dogs in the past, saying neighborhood kids have been “almost attacked.” A witnesses explained she installed electric fencing to keep dogs from growling at her while she mows her yard, and that some neighbors sometimes shoot into the air to scare stray dogs out of their yards.

“I’m kind of glad it happened, this sounds mean, but if they’re going to act like that, it takes extensive training to take it out of them, I know that for sure,” a witness said shortly after the incident. “So in my opinion, I would rather that happen, in my opinion, than hope they get caught one day. No offense.”

Bodycam footage shows the officer contact his supervisor to bring him to the scene. Once the supervisor arrived, the officer recounted the events to him as follows:

“I looked to my right, out my passenger window, and I saw her and him standing right here, and I saw the dogs were coming towards them, and I thought to myself ‘I can’t let that happen.’ I got out of my vehicle, I interjected, she threw her vape at the dogs. I started to walk towards them so I could shoo them away. I got between the dogs and them and I was about distance from me to you, I started shooing at the dogs, backing up and pointing and telling them go away, get out of here. They started to get a little bit more aggressive, they didn’t like that. He started showing teeth and started dodging down and lunged towards me. That’s when I drew my weapon out and backed up a little bit more and fired two to three rounds. I struck the dog, he got down right there, and I don’t know how the fight got back into him but even though I shot him he got back up and started trucking again. I put two more into him and he fell down.”

The officers then knocked on the owner’s door, but the owner was not home. The officer can be heard saying, “They’re definitely going to be in distress because I had to neutralize their aggressive dog.”

The owner returned home a sort time later and was informed by the officer his dog had been killed. He replied, “okay.”

LaRue 72-year-old fatally shoots wife, sheriff says

The owner walked with the officers to the dog’s body and positively identified the dog as his own, explaining that he has several dogs that he tries to keep in his backyard. He said that he has had problems keeping the dogs in his yard ever since a stray came and led his dogs out.

The city of Hawkins has ordinances against loose dogs, so the owner was cited for the incident.

“I appreciate you being so understanding,” the officer told him.

“Like I said, I’ve been trying to remedy the situation before it escalated to this point. Unfortunately, like I said, my efforts weren’t enough,” the owner responded.

The conversation then moved on to how to dispose of the dog’s body. The officers told the owner that, if it’s left to the PD to take care of it, they’ll need to put the body in a dumpster.

“That’s fine. If y’all need me to load him up, I can do that. That way y’all don’t get anything on you,” the owner responded. “It’s just, I’ve only got one trash can.”

A neighbor, who spoke to KETK on the condition of anonymity, said he was sent the video of the shooting.

“I’ve watched it about 25 times in a row just to make sure, hey, was the dog really coming after him or what? And you can tell the dog was just as sweet as could be,” he said. “It was just barking, so he shoots it three times? That’s not right.”

The resident said a barking dog does not necessarily pose a threat, especially in rural areas.

“Out in the country, we train them to bark,” he explained. “We want them to bark when people come up. That doesn’t mean they’re going to bite or attack you.”

The resident said there will be a community meeting where residents can gather and have their voices heard. It is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. at Hawkins City Hall.

Blue Bell announces new limited-time flavor to beat summer heat

“I’d love to have them come and patrol my street better, but now I don’t even want them out here,” the resident said. “I’m worried, is my dog going to bark and then [get shot]? I shouldn’t have to worry about that out here.”

You can read HPD’s full statement below:

The Hawkins Police Department (HPD) is compelled to address recent events surrounding an officer’s actions during an incident involving loose dogs in the community.

On 5/2/2024, an HPD officer was flagged down by a citizen who reported a pack of dogs running loose in the area of Humble St and Estelle St and also told the officer that he and his dogs were almost attacked. The officer swiftly located the pack of dogs and was about to attempt contact with the owners. Unfortunately, the situation escalated when the dogs approached two citizens in an aggressive manner, leading to one of the citizens throwing an object at the dogs to get them away from her and her son.

The officer, acting to protect the citizens, attempted to disperse the dogs and create a barrier between them and the individuals. Despite efforts to de-escalate the situation, one of the dogs exhibited aggressive behavior towards the officer, lunging and barking aggressively. The officer attempted to back away from the animal but it continued to charge after him.

In accordance with training and protocol, the officer discharged his service weapon to neutralize the imminent threat posed by the aggressive dog. Regrettably the situation necessitated the use of lethal force to ensure public safety and the safety of the officer.

The Hawkins Police Department stands by the actions of our officer, who acted courageously and decisively in the face of a dangerous situation to protect the citizens of this community.

We call upon the continued support of the Hawkins community to exercise discernment and seek accurate information before forming judgments based on misleading narratives circulated on social media platforms.

Hawkins PD

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to KETK.com | FOX51.com.