San Marcos Police Department has completed their investigation of a traffic stop that ended with the death of a dog. Local resident Michael Gonzalez and his girlfriend, Krystal Hernandez, were rushing their teacup poodle, Missy, to a veterinary clinic in New Braunfels to save their life-threatened “baby”.
Officer Paul Stephens pulled Gonzalez over for speeding on Interstate 35. Gonzalez said he was frantic and the officer did not make the situation any better.
“I was throwing my arms out the window and begging him, I was yelling ‘hurry up, please help me’,” said Gonzalez. “For a minute and half he just stood back there and looked at me as if I were crazy and he asked me to get out of the car, and I yelled at him please hurry, and to go look at what was going on. He then looked at me and said ‘what are you on?’ I was stunned.”
Gonzalez said he was finally able to explain to Stephens the nature of his dilemma, his dog was dying. Gonzalez said that Stephens replied, “Dude you need to chill out, it’s just a dog you can always get another one.” Gonzalez described feeling disgust and anger.
“Imagine if it was your daughter dying in your arms,” said Gonzalez. “And [Stephens] said, ‘it would never be my daughter, it’s a dog,'”.
Other officers were present at the scene, including Joyce Bender. Hernandez said Bender was dealing with her in the passenger’s seat while Gonzalez spoke with Stephens outside. Bender examined the dog and gently pushed down on her stomach according to Hernandez. “As she was telling me my dog was dead, my dog bit my finger,” said Hernandez. She said Bender then left her and Missy in the car and went to speak with the other officers. “She closed the door and she left, they left me just sitting there in the car and they never came back to ask me anymore questions or tried to help,” said Hernandez. “That’s when she died, when they left me in there.”
Gonzalez said they were held for approximately 20 minutes, resulting in Missy’s death. “The time that they wasted in giving me my ticket, I feel was very crucial time, time that we needed,” said Gonzalez.
Hernandez said she misses Missy very much and wants Stephens to lose his job. “I don’t think we should have people like that as a police, someone that we depend on for help and they’re not gonna help you,” said Hernandez. Gonzalez echoed her sentiment and said, “If he just gets a slap on the wrist, this kind of thing is just gonna happen again.”
San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said Stephens is a young officer and is unaccustomed to dealing with these kinds of cases. Stephens has received an oral reprimand and was ordered to get counseling.
“These people were having their world collapse around them, and the way the cop came across was like he didn’t care and that’s unacceptable,” said Williams. “We hope that through his counseling he will learn how to better deal with these issues.”
Williams said he will be writing the couple a letter explaining what happened and apologizing for the incident.
“It’s not fair for us,” said Hernandez. “She wasn’t just a dog; she was my best friend, she was more than that. We did everything together, and now just because of them, waking up in the morning is pretty sad for me, I mean she’s not jumping to try and get on the bed and we don’t do any of things we use to, she wasn’t just a dog to me.”
Gonzalez said he had bought Missy for Hernandez as a high school graduation gift. He said Missy was all Hernandez had in this world, after losing her mother to a stroke.
“She was like my child, I know she was just an animal but we had a connection, we had a bond,” said Hernandez. “She didn’t deserve to just suffer and to choke and just die there. It was a terrible thing that they did, the way they acted. I still feel the same, pretty angry inside, I cry over it.”
Gonzalez said his traffic violation was dropped.
By ANDY SEVILLA
Photos courtesy of Michael Gonzalez
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