San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz held a press conference addressing the incident regarding a traffic stop that ended with a death.

“I am here today to express our support for the San Marcos Police Department and our police officers,” said Narvaiz.

On August 5, San Marcos Police Officer Paul Stephens stopped local resident Michael Gonzales for speeding on Interstate 35. Stephens approached the car and told the driver to step out, that’s when Gonzalez frantically raising his hands yelled, “she’s dead, she’s dead.” Stephens then learned that Gonzalez and his girlfriend, Krystal Hernandez, were taking their dying dog, Missy, to an emergency veterinary clinic in New Braunfels, because she had choked on some food and was not breathing.

“At that point, Officer Stephens made inappropriate remarks to the distraught people,” said Narvaiz.

In a previous interview with Andy Sevilla of Newstreamz.com Gonzalez said Stephens told him “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 Gonzales. “And [Stephens] said, ‘it would never be my daughter, it’s a dog.’”

A backup officer who later arrived approached Hernandez who was holding Missy in the passenger side of the car.

“Officer [Joyce] Bender took the dog in her hands, tried to clear its airway and tried to get it breathing again,” said Narvaiz. “She was unsuccessful and Officer Bender believed that the dog was already dead.”

According to Hernandez, in a previous interview with Andy Sevilla of Newstreamz.com, Bender examined the dog and gently pushed down on her stomach. “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 [Missy] died, when they left me in there.”

Stephens, in the course of the traffic stop, issued Gonzalez a ticket for speeding, which days later was dismissed.

“The incident lasted 17 minutes, from the time Officer Stephens first attempted to pull them over until the officer released them,” said Narvaiz.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said the officers believed Missy was already dead, therefore they held Gonzalez for approximately 20 minutes because he was too hysterical to drive.

Gonzalez and Hernandez maintain Missy was still alive. ““The time that they wasted in giving me my ticket, I feel was very crucial time, time that we needed,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez and Hernandez filed a complaint with the San Marcos Police Department on August 6, regarding Stephens’ actions. Chief Williams began an internal investigation and ultimately concluded that Stephens receive a reprimand and counseling concerning his behavior.

Narvaiz said that she believes the corrective action that has taken place was appropriate and that no one is getting fired. “There has a been a storm of controversy nationwide and we have received thousands of emails and many phone calls from people who are extremely upset and dissatisfied with Officer Stephens’ performance and how the chief handled the issue,” said Narvaiz. “Without question, the situation was not handled very well by Officer Stephens. But the characterization of the story has led to death threats against the officer and his family by telephone. This is a sad situation for all concerned, but it does not warrant death threats.”

Narvaiz has not spoken with Gonzalez or Hernandez, the information she has and is presenting is from the police department.

Stephens is a veteran of the Iraq war and joined the San Marcos Police Department in March of 2007. He has no previous history of complaints.

“As Mayor of San Marcos I want to express our regret for this incident and trust we can use it to improve our service to our community,” said Narvaiz.

By ANDY SEVILLA
Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Andy Sevilla

Pictured: Missy
Courtesy of Michael Gonzalez

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0 thoughts on “Missy’s Death is still a hot issue in San Marcos and Nationally.

  1. I’m sorry for the loss. But let’s move on. I saw the couple on TV and guess what she was holding another dog and look as happy as could be. There are much larger issues to deal with. I’m a pet lover and a dog and cat owner. “Missy” looked ill to begin with. I would not jeopordize the safety of myself as well as others as the couple has. Please lets move on.

  2. I understand the officer needing to pull them over, but under this situation he should have escorted the couple and the dog to the veterinary clinic! I hope this starts a trend against insensitivity from officers, but still have them do their job correctly. Im very sorry for Michael Gonzalez and Krystal Hernandez’ lost, I know I value my dog as a family member, so I can empathize with them. We need to really evaluate all the components and see that the officer was doing his job, but did not act appropriately. Oprah (whom I love) is getting involved, and San Marcos already is getting a lot of negative attention because of Stephens. Chief Williams should have took stricter measures against Stephens, not necessarily fire him, but definitely a suspension would not be out of the question. I really like the mayor and I see how she is put up against the wall in this case, having to appease the community, yet stand with the Police Department. Hopefully we’ll all learn from this, it’s just a shame it took a death to finally bring up these issues.

  3. Our police are great! I don’t want a man speeding in traffic putting my kids at risk because a dog is dying. I am sorry for their loss. If this man would have responded to the officer the correct way by complying then things would have probably been different.

    They broke the law and they should pay the price. They went over the speed limit at reckless speeds. They should be put in jail and given a fine. But instead they got off the jail part.

  4. I would like to know who these people use as a vet here in San Marcos! WHY did he/her not meet them at his/her office instead of sending them to New Braunfels!! Does anyone have this information?

  5. San Marcos is lacking on emergency vet clinics. The good that can come out of this, is San Marcos getting an after hours emergency vet clinic, or the local vet’s starting an after hours rotation, like they do in many other places. I’ve had to take a dog to the vet at 3am, and had to drive to New Braunfels. Even so, this whole situation has gotten completely blown out of proportion, and people need to calm down. Both the officer and the couple were at fault at different times. The couple deserved a ticket, and the officer was an insensitive jerk. Learn from it. Now lets move on.

  6. After viewing the reckless driving of this person and his comments that other than a few trucks there really was nobody on the road, I was stunned. Public Safety is the priority of those officers. They risked their own lives to stop this person. I commend them for their duty to San Marcos. It is sick to believe that the life of a dog is worth the devastation that can be caused by an obviously distraught, reckless driver. A collision at that speed can kill more than a pet. I am sorry that this gentleman believes his animals health is more important than my safety but from my perspective it is NOT.

  7. These are all good comments. The Mayor is right supporting him and the Police. Let’s move on.

  8. The San Marcos Police department has a history of insensitive behavior!! It is about time that something has ignited the community to examine the behavior of this department. What happened to this couple is wrong! It is sad to say but this Police department has done worse to their own citizens. Their excessive use of forse has been in question recently. As a citizen in this community I feel that an attitude change needs to happen NOT just move on!

  9. Lauren you sound as if you have had an ‘unjustified’ altercation with the SMPD. Wy don’t you tell us all about it?

  10. The San Marcos Police Department should be sued as well as the City Hal and, especially, Officer Stevens. Yes, he had a right to stop him but his handling of the case was all wrong! Gonzales deserves every penny that he gets from the three parties. Stevens should have been suspended at the very least and probably fired for his stupidity.
    Does the Mayor think that a letter of apology from City Hall and Officer Stevens is going to end this problem! Animal lovers have long memories.

  11. Here are the links to the online petitions calling for the firing of Stephens and Williams and the censure of Narviaz:

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/fire-san-marcos-police-officer-paul-stephens
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/shame-on-san-marcos-texas-mayor-who-supports-dog-hater-cop
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/fire-san-marcos-police-chief-howard-williams#signatures

    There is also a petition calling for a boycott of San Marcos, although most people who are disgusted by this event don’t need to have a boycott suggested–if they don’t live there, they aren’t going there. It has all the appeal of Auschwitz or Love Canal.

    Stephens made Texas look like the most hideous state in the union but all that damage could have been taken care of if he had just been forced to resign after Williams took a look at the tape. The poop didn’t hit the fan until it became clear that NOTHING was going to be done to the sadist. Unfortunately, Williams and Narvaiz have shown themselves to be as clueless as Stephens, if not as cruel, and now the whole state is suffering a PR nightmare.

  12. …Wishing your City of San Marcos, Texas…the MOTHER of all lawsuits, on behalf of Missy.

  13. This is more than a “rookie mistake” or “insensitivity”. This is an egregious, punitive abuse of power and direct psycological abuse by Paul Stephens of San Marcos PD. His behavior is indicative of sociopathy.

    If he is displaying this behavior as a rookie and is allowed to go about his duties with a mere verbal counseling, what will he continue to do as a seasoned officer?

    Just because he has never had a complaint filed officially does not mean that he has not abused his power prior to this incident. The Susan Narvaiz mentioning that he is an Iraq veteran is a just distraction and noise. Susan Narvaiz trying to pass this off as lack of 24 hour veterinary care available in San Marcos is just noise and distraction.

    It is his job to be an objective observer rather than place his subjective judgements on what needs to be done.

    Fact: driver was speeding, therefore objective action is to initiate traffic stop and issue citation.

    Fact: a living being was dying, therefore objective action is a priority assist in getting emergency medical care for that living being (regardless of Paul’s subjective view on animals) and then follow-up with the citation/arrest without all of the verbal abuse and condescending tone. He should have immediately escorted them at a safe speed to the emergency vet.

    The volume level of Paul Stephens during the stop is not even of concern as it understandable when dealing with a potentially dangerous traffic stop BUT he should have had the wherewithall to determine that the driver was not combative with him just upset that his dog was dying! At no time did the driver make any agressive action towards the officer and the driver was compliant with all of his directions.

    It is the content of Paul Stephens’ dialogue and actions that is the focus here not the fact that he issued the ticket. Being a condenscending judge on the road is beyond his scope of duty and completely abusive not merely “inappropriate” and “insensitive”.

    It does not take 20 minutes to issue a citation. Using Paul Stephen’s subjective reasoning style, issuing a citation is not an emergency and does not justify Paul placing further risk to the dog’s life!

    Paul Stephens took his time in issuing that citation as a punitive move to teach the driver a “lesson”. Chilling.

    Prior to initiating any traffic stop, the officers call in the plate number to Dispatch and they have all the information they need from LEDS/NCIC. If the driver of the vehicle turned out to not be the owner of the car listed on the registration, a little detective work later would have sufficed. It is not rocket science here.

    The fact that the driver was speeding is neither here nor there, it does not excuse nor negate Paul Stephens’ behavior. Whether or not the dog would have died at the veterinarian’s office does not matter.

    The driver should be held accountable for speeding but that is separete from the issue of Paul Stephens’ sociopathic behavior.

    This is not an abuse of power in regards to initiating the traffic stop. It is an abuse of power by Paul Stephens in his action and words to the driver during the stop.

    It goes beyond mere unprofessionalism and is an indication of his true psycological make-up. This is not someone that we want in a position of power. Ever. This type of person cannot be educated, rehabilitated or counseled into proper action and thought.

    How dare he accuse the driver of being on something because he was distraught over his dog dying! Then when the driver says he is on medication for Bi-Polar, Paul says “I can tell” in a completely horrific tone!

    Listen to his words in the video tape and the tone of those words. Nothing that Susan Narvaiz, San Marcos PD, Paul Stephens says can take away from that. I see it, well see it. It is there on tape.

    How dare he tell the driver that if he is going that fast there had better be a child in that car! That dog was their child, Paul Stephens (I am not calling him officer on purpose as he does not deserve to be addressed as such, that title is reserved for professionals).

    Sensitivity training, verbal reprimand, written reprimand, counseling, etc. will do nothing to correct this.

    Paul Stephens needs to have his pay docked, be suspended and/or be fired. If he is merely verbally counseled, the only thing that will change will be that he will become more subversive and under-handed in his abuse to avoid complaints and detection.

    As for the other cop on the scene that spoke with the female owner holding the dog on the passenger side…how dare the cop tell the owner that Missy was already dead (as if that was an excuse for detaining them or talking to them in that manner).

    If that were a child, would you not rush to the ER room even if it was dead upon arrival?

    If the Mayor is siding with Paul Stephens, the other cop and San Marcos PD, that indicates her psycological make up too. Even if they want to white wash it as “insensitivity” to animals and their owners, then be aware that “insensitivity” to animals is a precursor to “insensitivity” to humans!

    The fact that they dismissed the ticket shows they know this is more than just insensitivity. It even more heartbreaking to hear after all that they were subjected to Missy suffered for 20 minutes for nothing. Suffered while she was scared, while her owners were distraught, hearing yelling from strangers at her parents, etc.

    Amazing that they did not fire that rookie. What is the matter? Afraid he will get upset or suffer? He will get over it, it is “just a job” and he “can get another one”.

  14. I can’t help but be totally dazed by this event being a huge media event. I’m sorry that the man’s dog died. I love my animals, but the officer had nothing to do with it. He did a fine job in my opinion. He possibly saved Mr. Gonzales, his wife, and/or other motorist. Officers deal with real death (humans) all of the time, and have to attempt to do that in an unemotion way. Seriously, if an officer can’t handle a dog dying, then he doesn’t need to be in that profession. He had Mr. Gonzales driving in a reckless and strange manner, then jumping out of the car yelling. Officer Smith had no idea what in the world was going on. Mr. Gonzales could have been on drugs, illegal or legal, alcohol, or just plain off his rocker. None of his harshest critics were in his shoes and dealing with this kind of situation. It’s soooo easy to back seat drive this in the ground. I’m really just fasinated with how much energy the true “loones” are. If you want to put this much energy into something, try something that truely matters, i.e. Child Abuse, domestic violance, alcohol related accidents, Criminal Negligent Homicides with vehicles (from reckless speeds like Mr. Gonzalez)…any number of things. Open your eyes to the entire event and look at it from both views. You want to take a man career away because of this one event? I certainly hope I can reach the level of Christhood you people have. Why you must never say anything that might offend anyone!! Give me a break with all of your hypersensitivity.
    p.s. If I ever need a police officer (it would be a bad situation if that ever happens) I personally want a big, mean, zero tolerence, non-metrosexual officer to respond. I truly do not need an officer that will want to hug and nurture a thug into submission

  15. There is a reason there are not veterinarian ambulances. Every year hundreds if not thousands of police vehicles and ambulances are wrecked while responding to emergencies. These are professionally trained drivers in marked, high performance vehicles. High speed transportation of sick pets is simply not worth the risk to public safety. San Marcos is 17 miles away from New Braunfels, according to Google Earth. It was dark and this driver was in no emotional condition to drive at all, much less 17 miles on a dark road at 100+mph. It is the officers duty to stop the speeder and protect the public safety. Because this dog owner chose to transport this animal rather than try simple life saving procedures that a vet could have offered over the phone, Mr. Gonzales jeopardized his life, his girlfriends life and the lives of every other motorist on the road including the officers on scene. Shame on all of you who want to punish these public safety officers for risking their lives and doing their job.

  16. Dogs are not unfeeling “things”. This dog died a horrible and terrifying death…and it might no have happened if this officer had shred of compassion.

    IMHO no one should question his stopping them…it is what he did and said afterward that exposed him as someone that does deserve to wear a badge.

    The couple was acting out of fear and panic. He was acting out of a character that is sadly lacking.

  17. Why did the dog choke? The owner’s should have animal neglect charges filed against them for allowing the dog to have an item that it could choke on since it was know to be in poor health.

    This makes about as much sense as blaming the officer for the dog’s death!

  18. This officer did the right thing, though he said the wrong thing. You’re only seeing/hearing half of the video!!! I saw the whole thing, and his statements have been cleverly edited to spark a news story and give 15 minutes of fame to those selfish jerks driving 100mph on the highway with no regard for human life. The officer said he didn’t care about them trying to save a dog if it meant killing several other people and asked them how he’d explain to a mother why they killed her children by wrecking into her car to save their dog. He said he was sympathetic and understood they felt this was an emergency, but he didn’t think it justified killing other people and possibly others when the dog had already stopped breathing 8 minutes ago (according to its owners) and they were driving to a clinic at least 20mins away–i.e. the dog was already dead! They even told the officer the dog was dead initially, then changed their story and said it wasn’t. Hm…how long can YOU go without breathing and still live??? It was dead! These two brats need to shut up and stop making an honest town and cop’s life a living hell. Neither deserve it. I love San Marcos, and Officer Stevens always seemed like a nice guy to me. What he said was rude and he should be punished…but he’s already gotten WAY more than he ever deserved for this. My sympathy and prayers to you, Officer Stevens.

  19. First of all……… Missy was not sick. Mayor Navariz and the Chief whats his face need to pay close attention to the 2 dash cam videos. Michael and Krystal weren’t trying to be movie stars, they were trying to save their dog. Officer Bender made no attempt to clear Missy’s airway (what! now she is a vet. doctor). Michael had his emergancy lights on his way to the vet (hazard lights indicate EMERGENCY) PLEOPLE NEED TO GET THEIR FACTS STRAIGHT BEFORE COMMENTING. Missy was a teacup poodle which are small dogs………not sick.

  20. SOoooooooooo how do you know missy wasnt sick Jane? Are you a vet? Had you ever seen the dog before? Or just a picture?
    Hmmmm thats what I thought!

  21. Yes! Ed…I know for a fact Missy wasn’t sick. No! Ed… I am not a vet. Yes! Ed…I have seen Missy on many, many occassions. Well! Mr. Ed………you thought wrong. THATS WHAT I MEAN……IGNORANT PEOPLE LIKE YOU. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT. AND I AM RELATED TO MICHAEL GONZALEZ. Missy will always be very important to all of us.

  22. Hey Jane,
    Careful on calling people “ignorant”…. see, it’s ILLEGAL for ANYONE to drive 100 mph with our without flashers on!!! In case you don’t understand, that means just turning on your flashers does not give you the right to drive 100 mph!! So, get YOUR facts straight…. while the cop was wrong in what he said, the ultimate fault still remains with the “ignorant” driver who started all this crap by endangering other citizens {and dogs in their cars!}…..So in memory of Missy, educate yourself on facts before calling others ignorant.

  23. Jack…. do you know for a fact he was going 100 mph. There is more to the story than you know Mr. IGNORANT…….YOU WIN FIRST PLACE.
    GOD BLESS YOU

  24. OK, maybe the dog was not sick. I still say the owners need to be held responsible for animal neglect for allowing their beloved, prescious, esteemed, family member get ahold of food that would cause it to choke.

  25. On September 27, 2008 I am holding a public meeting at the San Marcos Public Library, to discuss the laws that Officer Stephens violated, when he made the stop.
    The meeting will be at the large meeting room from 3:30-5:00p.m.
    You can contact me at
    peewee_91762@yahoo.com
    Also, If they don’t investigate Officer Stephens for his violation of the Texas Penal Code, and the city Code of Ordinances, I will file a lawsuit against Chief Williams, for not firing the officer.

  26. Patrick,

    Aren’t you from San Antonio? FYI, San Marcos has other issues that are much more important!

  27. I wish to hear from people in San Marcos who think that nobody is interested in this matter.
    You can contact me at:
    peewee_91762@yahoo.com
    If I hear from 100 people in San Marcos, who say that they don’t care if a police officer violates the law, then I will cancel the meeting.
    The reason I am involved is because the stop was on Interstate 35, which I drive on every day in my job.
    I have seen the police video many times, and Officer Stephens’ attitude and behavior were dangerous to the public.

  28. I hope alot of people show up to support the City and its gov. Lets keep patrick greene out of San Marcos!!

  29. I would accept the comment from Mr. McQuin, however I do not know where he lives.
    There must be verification

  30. Here’s hoping the City files a frivolous lawsuit against Patrick Greene when he looses! Before you waste taxpayer money here in San Marcos, why not take care of issues in your own city of San Antonio Mr. Greene! This issue is done, over, let it go!!!

  31. How do people feel when a police officer violates the penal code on cruelty to animals?
    At the meeting on the 27th of Sept., at the city library at 3:30p.m. I will show people which laws Officer Stephens violated.
    And, there will be a Memorial to Missy on October 11th to announce my filing of the lawsuit.
    peewee_91762@yahoo.com
    if anyone has questions

  32. I live in San Francisco and just heard about this case today. I saw the video on TV. It’s the worst nightmare of a dog owner who is trying to save his precious dog’s life. That officer could have been their hero, he could have taken them in his squad car with lights flashing to save the dog’s life. Instead, he seemed determined to kill it. He not only said “It’s just a dog, you can buy another one” he also said “I don’t CARE about your dog.” I’ve seen this mentality in police before, if they feel a member of the public that they have stopped is not giving them sufficient respect and deference, they come down on that person like a ton of bricks and then it becomes all about control and ego. And who loses? The dog.

    What a horrible way to die. And what a horrible thing for the owners to have to witness.

    I have had three dogs over the past thirty years and I cannot imagine having to live with the memory of my beloved dog dying in my lap when the chance that it can be saved is just a few miles down the freeway.

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