It began at Oakwood BBQ in Austin, Texas. It ended with a 12-year-old girl in the hospital and a sheriff’s deputy in handcuffs.
It was shortly before 8 p.m. on March 3 when sheriff’s deputy Jack Danford Jr. was sitting at the back of the restaurant with his daughter and her boyfriend while a 12-year-old girl and a small dog were running around near them, according to an affidavit obtained by Fox 26 and other local media.
The deputy picked up the dog and petted it before putting it back down, a witness told police in the affidavit.
But when the 12-year-old girl began playing with the dog, the deputy allegedly jumped from his seat, tackled the girl and began punching her in the face again and again, police say, according to KXAN.
There’s still no clear explanation as to why.
“I seen him on top of her, he was hammer-fisting her, it was like UFC style,” Russell Cope, the victim’s step-dad, told Fox 26.
Witnesses surrounded the man and tried to pull him off the girl. Cope, who was delivering wood at the time, punched the man twice in the face, but it had no effect, according to the affidavit. “I was punching him and it wasn't even [fazing] him, it wasn't even doing nothing,” Cope told KVUE.
So he said he pulled back his foot and clocked the deputy with his steel-toed boot. “I went to whooping on him, and I knocked him out cold,” Cope told the station.
Police came and arrested Danford after a brief struggle, reported CBS Austin.
“I was shocked because I knew he was a detective and I thought that they were held to higher standards that there was no way that that would happen, especially to a 12 year old girl,” the restaurant’s manager, Will Atkins, told CBS Austin. “Nobody has any idea, there was no reasoning, no logical explanation.”
The girl’s family said that they had never met the deputy before, reported Spectrum News. Officers noted that the officer had a strong scent of alcohol on him when they arrested him and had told his daughter he had been drinking, reported WFAA
The girl was taken to the hospital and treated for abrasions, bruises and a pulled muscle, and said she “thought she was going to die” during the alleged attack, reported KXAN.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody apologized on Twitter for the deputy’s actions shortly after the incident, saying it was a “a tough choice but the right call” for police during the arrest and that “WillCo demands professionalism.”
Danford has since been charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest and injury to a child, reported CBS Austin.
He bonded out of jail and agreed to a psychological evaluation, reported the Austin-America Statesman.
Sheriff Robert Chody fired the deputy and said “there’s a price to pay” for reflecting negatively on the department, he told the paper.