By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
We previously discussed a disturbing report of a family pet shot by Rains County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerrod Dooley, HERE. The incident stemmed when homeowner Cole Middleton arrived home about 11:00 AM and discovered his residence had been burglarized and several items, including all his firearms were stolen. Several hours later, while Cole was working in a field harvesting grass, Deputy Dooley arrived. The deputy then claimed he was threatened by Cole Middleton’s cow dog Candy when she darted out from a pickup truck and was shot. Despite being begged by Cole to put down Candy to end her suffering, Deputy Dooley instead calls for help and pulls back in his patrol car to wait for “backup”. Cole, having no firearms to perform a coup de grâce, suffered the terror of having to drown Candy in a bucket to end it for her.
Newly released dash cam video capturing much of the incident shows Deputy Dooley arriving at the residence and pulling behind a pickup truck. Candy is lying down in the bed of the truck and when the patrol vehicle pulls up she stands and begins barking with tail wagging. Candy continues to bark and then jumps out of the bed and is subsequently shot by Deputy Dooley. Shortly thereafter, Cole walks up and Deputy Dooley informs him that he had to shoot his dog. Cole is understandably distressed yet the deputy calls for backup saying he needs “help” and is shown backing out of the driveway.
Sheriff David Traylor fired Deputy Dooley and later stated to a KLTV reporter that it was for Dooley’s safety because of numerous threats made against him and the department. He added that it is the safest move for the department and the deputy.
In the three decades Sheriff Traylor stated he was in law enforcement, he had never seen a department receive so many threats from a single incident. Ultimately he said thas was the reason Dooley was fired. The hundreds of calls from outraged citizens was beginning to detract from other responsibilities the department is charged with and Sheriff Traylor believed having Dooley on the force put he and other deputies at risk. Dooley had been employed for six months. The sheriff confirmed that a criminal investigation into the shooting is underway and is headed by the Texas Rangers.
Sheriff Traylor stated his department is implementing policy changes he hopes will reduce the likelihood of a similar tragedy reoccurring; such as waiting in the car if possible or honking a horn to have the dog’s owner to come by and address the dog. But the sheriff was pragmatic about these policies by adding “you can put the policies out there and follow them as best you can…but it will be a matter of common sense.”
Candy’s owner Cole Middleton said he is glad that Deputy Dooley was fired and still hoped there would be a criminal prosecution for the shooting.
One reason for Deputy Dooley’s sudden departure from the Rains County Sheriff’s Office might be that as a six month employee, he is likely on probation and in this respect is subject to termination at the pleasure of the sheriff before a civil service tenure is afforded him. During the probationary time it gives the department an opportunity to vet the employee for suitability for a career with the department.
In the opinion of your author, the decision of Sheriff Traylor was sound. Deputy Dooley in this incident displayed a fundamental lack of proper discretion in dealing with a use of force issue and when faced with a despondent person (Cole Middleton) over having shot his dog, Dooley chose to call for “Help” and flee the scene. Calling for Help in the law enforcement world is a far more urgent distress call than calling for “backup”. Such a call, paired up with him backing out of the scene, will cause responding officers to believe a dire threat is being faced by the calling officer. This causes responding officers to respond faster and puts them at a higher risk and takes them away from even other in-progress calls. This type of incident was not something that Deputy Dooley should have backed out of. It is very indicative of future performances where he is going to be likely one who will call for help / backup at the drop of a hat and in a rural county environment where he will seldom be partnered up with another deputy, he likely is not suited to be a deputy sheriff.
He also showed cowardice in not wanting to face the situation of putting down Candy when decency and the law demanded the coup de grâce mercy be given. And how quick will he have been to shoot another animal or person when faced with a difficult situation where the use of a firearm is clearly not warranted otherwise. Jarrod Dooley’s actions are indicative that it is not worth the risk in him being afforded the duties of a deputy sheriff.
It seems clear that in some measure, the Middleton family will see some justice in the matter.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.