Mounted patrol officer Sgt. Adam Johnson sits atop his horse, Baru.
Anusha Lalani, Austin American-Statesman
Authorities have accused a Texas man of deliberately releasing his dog to attack Austin police horses, according to an affidavit filed Friday.
Mounted officers in Austin were patrolling Nov. 26 when they noticed a man with a dog that the officers said looked like a “pit bull’ type of dog,” according to the court document. Officers said they saw the man, identified in the affidavit as 23-year-old Makel Rashad Farmer, “patting the underside of the dog as to get the dog agitated (become too aggressive) in the direction of the police mounted horses,” the affidavit said.
The officers told Farmer to get his dog away from the horses but Farmer followed the police and came closer to a horse, “causing a reaction,” the document said. Police noticed that the dog was barking and pulling at its leash as if to get at the horses, according to the court document.
As police were leaving Sixth Street, an officer felt his horse “act and move as if to strike out with both hind legs,” and he heard another officer telling him to “watch out for the dog,” the affidavit said. The officer looked down and saw Farmer’s dog “aggressively trying to bite the hind legs” of the horse, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Other police officers on foot grabbed the dog until Farmer came to take it from them, the affidavit said. Police were going to give Farmer a citation for the unrestrained dog when the dog freed itself from Farmer. The dog lunged at the horses before being physically restrained, according to the affidavit.
Police were trying to determine whether the dog attack was deliberate, so they reviewed surveillance footage from HALO cameras posted in that area, the affidavit said. The video showed that Farmer followed the mounted police unit with his dog on his shoulder. There, he lowered his dog onto the street, the document said.
The video showed Farmer “holding the dog by the hind legs as if to prepare the dog for an attack and purposely release the dog in the direction of the mounted unit,” the affidavit said. The dog is then seen directly running toward the mounted unit horses until it approaches one horse’s hind leg, according to the affidavit. Farmer is seen walking toward the scene in a casual manner, the document said.
Farmer is being charged with interference with a police service animal, a state jail felony, the Austin American-Statesman reported. He was not in Travis County Jail Friday, records show, but his bail has been set at $4,000.