By Garth O'Brien | August 16, 2008
Filed Under OFF TOPIC
San Marcos, Texas. This story is very alarming, and will shock the average citizen to the core. Krystal Hernandez owned a sweet teacup poodle named Missy. Unfortunately, Missy was very ill and required immediate emergency care. Krystal and her boyfriend Michael Gonzalez jumped in the car and raced off to a veterinary hospital to save Missy.
Gonzalez navigated his vehicle onto Interstate 35 and reached speeds at high as 95 mph. Driving 95 mph on a public highway is extremely dangerous and should be reserved for a raceway in a secure and safe environment. Other drivers rely upon the fact that their fellow drivers will abide by the traffic regulations. This consistency and predictability creates the foundation that prevents accidents and mayhem on the roadway. Gonzalez clearly tossed out that predictability by careening down an interstate at 95 mph. However, there are situations that require an individual to break a rule because following the law might be more dangerous. For example, most drivers are given a “get out of jail free” card when racing to the hospital to preserve life or to transport a woman in labor. This does not preclude them from being issued a ticket for their actions, but you never hear of a police officer delaying such citizens on the side of the road.
It is too bad Gonzalez and Hernandez were not racing to save a human life. They were desperately trying to save Missy the teacup poodle. Unfortunately, San Marcos Police Officer Paul Stephens was on patrol that night. Stephens stopped Gonzalez and immediately launched into an investigation asking what Gonzalez was “on.” They explained their predicament, but it was clear that Stephens was going to detain them. Hernandez begged and pleaded for Missy’s life.
Stephens chillingly retorted, “Chill out, it’s just a dog, you can buy another one.” Stephens then took his sweet time in issuing a traffic citation. He even chatted with other officers that arrived on the scene. All the while Missy’s condition was declining. Instead of assisting the couple and helping to get Missy to a veterinary hospital he slowly enforced the law. He presented his traffic ticket to the couple 20 minutes later, but Missy had already died in her Hernandez’s lap.
I am distressed that a police officer has such a callous disposition toward life. That a police officer, sworn to serve and protect, can watch an animal die in the arms of their owner. An owner that is begging for help to save her cherished pet. Stephens soaked in the fear, the sadness and the helplessness of Hernandez and reveled in his position of authority. He knew a dog’s life was being extinguished and that he could have helped save that life. Instead he chooses to watch that life slip away.
Stephens could have driven the party or could have escorted Gonzalez and Hernandez to the animal hospital. While Missy was receiving treatment Stephens could have issued a speeding ticket to Gonzalez. However, having the power over citizens can be such a thrill, and being able to decide whether an animal lives or dies is quite powerful. “Chill out, it’s just a dog, you can buy another one.”
I wrote Police Chief Howard Williams explaining my concern about Stephens’ disregard for life. Howie responded with:
I appreciate your concerns. We, too, were disappointed in our officer’s behavior. He has been reprimanded, and he has been counseled on his behavior.
Howard E. Williams
Chief of Police
San Marcos Police Department
2300 IH-35 S
San Marcos, TX 78666
I wonder what class Stephens attended to learn how to respect life? I wonder how that class miraculously taught Stephens to respect life in just a few hours or days? There is a reason police officers receive a psyche and behavioral evaluation during the hiring process. Many are washed out after this evaluation because they cannot manage the power and responsibility lawfully. Some get through the process like Stephens.
I wonder what the San Marcos K9 unit thinks about Stephens. I sure would not want my trusty german shepard working the same call as Stephens. If the K9 is shot or dies while taking down a suspect the handler can fall back on these comforting words, “Chill out, it’s just a dog, you can buy another one.”
Stephens should have been fired because this will not be the last blemish on Stephens’ glorious law enforcement career. You cannot teach someone to respect life in a class. The citizens of San Marcos should demand Stephens’ badge and gun are turned in permanently. Otherwise they should just chill out the next time he stumbles while on the job.