Tablet Local

Cleburne mayor invites protesters to community cleanup event

Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain has invited people planning to protest on Saturday about the fatal shooting of a pit bull by a police officer to “roll up their sleeves” and help people in need this weekend.

Cain invited protesters to show up a few hours early to help trim trees or to help paint houses for needy residents during the Operation Cleburne Pride event.

“When I found out [the protesters] were going to be in town, my thought was if they want to do something for the community, what better way to help the community,” he said Thursday.

“Sometimes, it’s good for parties with a difference of opinions to lay their swords down. It’s an opportunity to do some good.”

Protest organizer Kory Watkins used his Facebook page to call on people to gather at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Cleburne police department for a second rally “for justice for Maximus.”

Maximus was a 6-month-old pit bull fatally shot Aug. 10 by a Cleburne police officer.

The officer is on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Watkins, who organized the first protest in Cleburne last month, could not be reached to comment Thursday. By Thursday night, 57 people had replied that they would attend the protest.

Operation Cleburne Pride involves the city and volunteer organizations who help residents who are disabled or financially unable to clean up their property.

Cain posted the invitation to the protesters on his Facebook page, and the comments ranged from support to criticism that the city “swept the shooting incident under the rug.”

Last month, Maximus, owned by Cleburne resident Amanda Henderson, and other dogs got out of Henderson’s back yard.

In his report, the officer wrote that he responded to a 911 call from a woman who said she was “trapped in her car by several pit bulls that surrounded the car.” The caller said an elderly woman and a baby were in the car with her.

The officer wrote that when he arrived at the 1500 block of Lindsey Street, one dog had already been secured. But a male pit bull came within 20 feet of him and started growling. He wrote that a female dog appeared to be nervous and that he made kissing noises to calm the animals.

“I was standing outside the ditch and [the dog] was in the ditch,” the officer wrote. “I raised my duty weapon to the ready position pointed at the growling dog's head. As soon as I lifted my pistol, the dog began coming up the hill, continuing to growl and display its teeth. The other dog began backing away. I fired three shots at it. It rolled back into the ditch and died.”

Henderson obtained a copy of a video of the incident taken with the officer’s body camera and posted it on Facebook.

The video showed the officer making kissing noises to encourage a dog to come to him, and the dog wagging its tail.

On the day Henderson posted the video, the city’s web site, email and 911 emergency system were targeted by hackers.

Cain said the city’s information and technology department employees logged more than 120 hours pinpointing and stopping the attacks, he said.

Acting City Manager Robert Severance said information about the hacking has been turned over to the Texas Rangers, and the agency will decide whether to investigate. Cleburne also hired an outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation, he said.

Online training is available for officers to learn how to handle aggressive dogs, Severance said.

Also, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas will offer training in December in Cleburne for officers that will focus on methods for controlling loose or aggressive dogs, he said.