UPDATE: AUGUST 23
Mayor Narvaiz is trying to blame this event on the lack of a 24-hour veterinary facility in San Marcos and the media. The Friends of Missy maintain that this event could have happened anyway since we cannot imagine a frantic pet owner driving slower because the hospital was closer--they would just be driving too fast for less time. The outcome for the pet might be better, but the speed at which the owner drives wouldn't change. Also, now that owners are aware of the dangers of stopping for a police officer, we expect that few would stop, exacerbating the situation.
Now back to the original petition....
We, the undersigned, are extremely disappointed in your apparent lack of concern over the events of August 4, 2008, during which Officer Paul Stephens made an international spectacle of himself by berating and belittling, on camera, a citizen in extreme distress. We believe that the officer's actions bordered on sadistic and sociopathic and we doubt that he has learned, or can learn, the people skills necessary to bring credit on your or anyone's police department.
It is apparent from your statement [copied below] that you are more concerned with the feelings of this officer than you are about the feelings of the citizens involved in the incident and we sincerely hope that we are wrong in our belief that this incident will not be the last of its kind in his (hopefully brief) careeer as a police officer.
It will take a long time for San Marcos, and the State of Texas in general, to recover from this blow to its image. You had the opportunity to make great strides toward repairing the damage but chose to believe and support an individual whose callous and cruel actions, as caught on camera, left dog lovers worldwide stunned and horrified. Shame on you, Mayor Narvaiz.
(Please follow links in the expanation section for the full story behind this petition.)Mayor Susan Narvaiz
, who is running for reelection
this year, issued this statement
yesterday in support of the actions of Officer Paul Stephens
and his supervisor, Police Chief Howard Williams
.Please go here
to sign petition asking for Paul Stephens' firing.
Mayor Susan Narvaiz
August 21, 2008
I am here today to respond to the national media attention that has been
focused on a traffic stop that occurred August 5, 2008. My purpose is to
discuss with you what happened and the corrective action that was taken%u2014and why.
Here are the facts.
%u2022 On August 5, 2008, Officer Paul Stephens stopped a vehicle traveling
at 95 miles an hour and driving erratically on Interstate 35
%u2022 The driver, Michael Gonzales, first pulled over on an overpass against
the crash barrier.
%u2022 When the officer asked him through the public address system to pull
off the bridge to where it was safe, the driver took off at a high rate of
speed, despite the officer%u2019s lights and siren.
%u2022 After about two miles, the driver took an exit ramp at Center Point
Road and stopped in the middle of the frontage road.
%u2022 Officer Stephens approached the car and told the driver to step out.
As Mr. Gonzales stepped out of the car, he raised his hands and yelled
at the officer, %u201Cshe%u2019s dead, she%u2019s dead.%u201D
%u2022 Officer Stephens then learned what the problem was%u2014that Mr.
Gonzales and his passenger were taking their dog Missy who had
choked on some food and was not breathing%u2014to an emergency
veterinary clinic in New Braunfels.
%u2022 At that point, Officer Stephens made inappropriate remarks to the
%u2022 As Mr. Gonzales was exiting the car, a backup officer, Officer Joyce
Bender, arrived and approached the passenger side of the car and
started to speak to Krystal Hernandez, the passenger. Ms. Hernandez
was holding Missy and pleading for help.
%u2022 Officer Bender took the dog in her hands, tried to clear its airway and
tried to get it breathing again. She was unsuccessful and Officer
Bender believed that the dog was already dead.
%u2022 Officer Stephens issued a ticket to Mr. Gonzales for speeding and sent
them on the way. The incident lasted 17 minutes, from the time
Officers Stephens first attempted to pull them over until the officer
%u2022 On August 6, 2008 Mr. Gonzales and Ms. Hernandez filed a
complaint with the San Marcos Police Department about the actions
of Officer Stephens.
%u2022 Chief Howard Williams immediately conducted an internal
investigation into the incident. On August 13, 2008 the department
concluded its investigation and the chief issued a reprimand and
ordered Officer Stephens to be counseled about his behavior.
%u2022 Chief Williams conducted numerous media interviews about the
incident and released the dashcam videos from officers patrol
%u2022 Since that time, 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%u2019 performance and how the chief handled the issue.
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.
Officer Stephens is a veteran of the Iraq war who joined the San Marcos
Police Department in March 2007 after leaving the military. He has been
with the department for 15 months. He has no previous history of complaints
and has a good record of service with the department.
We do not condone what the officer said. It was inappropriate and
insensitive. The purpose of discipline is to correct an employee%u2019s behavior.
When determining corrective action, our department considers all of the
circumstances involved, the employee%u2019s history and the chances for success
in the disciplinary action.
I believe the corrective action that has taken place was appropriate.
I am here today to express our support for the San Marcos Police
Department and our police officers.
This unfortunate incident also brings to light the apparent lack of after-hours
emergency veterinary care in San Marcos for pets that suffer a lifethreatening
emergency as Missy did.
We are looking to see if we can address that issue in San Marcos.
I want to reiterate the following:
%u2022 Officer Stephens was correct in stopping a car traveling at high rate of
speed on one of the most dangerous roadways in the nation%u2014I-35
between Austin and San Antonio. Imagine if your family had been
killed or injured by a speeding driver%u2014who hadn%u2019t been stopped in a
%u2022 The officer made inappropriate remarks to Mr. Gonzales.
%u2022 The Police Chief has issued a letter of apology to Mr. Gonzales and
has disciplined and counseled Officer Stephens for this incident.
%u2022 We acknowledge the high emotion and concern that has prompted
thousands of emails to be sent to our Police Department and to the
City of San Marcos.
%u2022 The threats against the officer are also inappropriate and extremely
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.
This is a sad situation for all concerned.