Homeless woman fatally shot by officer had a dog who ‘was her soul,’ friend says
The dog, as described by people who knew the apparently homeless woman and man who owned it, is brown, small-to-medium in size and playful. It would usually walk, unleashed, along with the couple.
On Thursday afternoon, an Arlington officer tried to shoot the dog and accidentally killed the woman, police said.
Acquaintances of Margarita Victoria Brooks, 30, said she was known as Maggie and was a regular in the area of the Seville Commons shopping center, near where she was shot. The Arlington Police Department has said a rookie officer fired at the dog, which was charging toward him, when a bullet struck Brooks as she laid in the grass.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office reported Friday afternoon that she died of a gunshot wound to the chest and her death was ruled a homicide.
The dog, which authorities believe was grazed by a bullet, was treated by a veterinarian and impounded, police said. Investigators believe the dog belonged to Brooks.
Larry Hamilton, who often tries to find work outside a Walmart store in the shopping complex, said he knew Brooks, her boyfriend and their small brown dog. Brooks “was real loving to the dog,” who “was her soul,” he said.
“She was a very loving person to the dog,” Hamilton said. “Always made sure the dog was fed before she (was) ... She was a good-hearted person.”
Other people who knew of the couple have similarly described a loving relationship between the woman and the dog following her death.
This shooting makes Hamilton feel “very concerned.” He said police “don’t really take the proper judgment in that type of situation.”
Arlington residents described the dog as a mixed breed of small to medium size. Hamilton thought it looked like a mix between a beagle and a Labrador retriever. He doesn’t think the dog was aggressive and said he often petted it as he made his way to Walmart.
Hamilton, 64, said he’s lived in a nearby apartment since April but was homeless for seven years. He used to sleep in the woods behind the Walmart.
Brooks and her boyfriend would usually sit underneath a tree outside the Walmart, Hamilton said. Officials at Arlington Life Shelter had no records of Brooks being at their facility.
Larry Johnson, 20, has worked in the Walmart dairy section for five months. He would often see the couple under the tree with their dog.
Johnson said the dog always seemed to be “playful and nice to everybody. ... I’ve never seen it bark or anything like that to anybody.”
Robert Baxter, a sales manager at a Cadillac dealership next to the Walmart, said the woman and a man would often walk along the side of the supermarket with the dog and a bicycle. The couple would be mindful of the dog, trying to keep it out of the road, he said.
Staff at the Don Davis used car dealership said a brown dog — 40 pounds at most — ran into a garage around 6 p.m. after the shooting. Dario Torres, a car transporter, said the dog looked scared until a man came over and calmed it down.
“He just sat there with him until the dog got comfortable,” he said. “But, to be honest, the dog looked scared. And that’s the one thing we noticed.”
The officer who shot Brooks had been dispatched to check on her welfare, according to a news release from the Arlington Police Department.
The officer had been sent to check on Brooks because a person called 911 and reported about 5:15 p.m. Thursday that a woman was passed out in the grass, police said. The city’s fire department and paramedics were also dispatched to check her welfare.
The first officer arrived around 5:20 p.m. and he and the other personnel could not initially find Brooks, police said. The caller contacted the officer and directed him and the others to the location where she was last seen.
When the officer found Brooks near Cantor Drive and North Collins Street, an unrestrained dog was with her, police said. The location is near a fence line and woods behind the shopping center.
As the officer called out to Brooks, the barking dog ran toward the officer, police said.
The officer retreated, then fired multiple times toward the dog, police said. Brooks yelled, and it became clear that she had been shot.
Brooks was taken to Medical City Arlington Hospital and pronounced dead about 6 p.m. Her name was released by the medical examiner’s office.
The shooting was recorded on video by the officer’s body camera, which will be reviewed during an investigation, police said.
The patrol officer, whose name the department did not release, is assigned to the North District. The officer reportedly has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure, pending the outcome of the investigation.
It’s not clear whether Brooks was suffering a medical emergency or was under the influence of an intoxicant prior to the shooting, Arlington police Lt. Christopher Cook told the Associated Press on Friday.
Police held a press conference Friday afternoon at which they released part of the officer’s body camera video and said it’s believed he fired three shots. The 25-year-old officer graduated from the police academy in February and completed his field training on July 1, Police Chief Will Johnson said.