Kelso: Street artist seeks justice for dog shot by officer

Maybe Austin police should start carrying sausage links and squeaky toys, instead of packing heat, to deal with pets.

Julian Reyes, an Austin street artist who goes by the name of the Lizard King, is grieving over the loss of his dog, Shiner Bock.

Shortly before midnight on April 24, an Austin cop shot Shiner Bock while Julian was working on some projects at his rental storage unit at Triple A Storage on Stassney Lane in South Austin.

A brief police report says “DANGEROUS ANIMAL — FIREARM USED.” Anna Sabana, public information and marketing manager for the Austin Police Department, says the German shepherd came out growling at the cop. She added that Shiner Bock didn’t follow the officer’s commands and kept coming at him.

As if a dog who has never seen this cop before is going to know police commands. “Step away from the squad car, Fido.” Maybe the cop should have told him to roll over.

“All I saw was them shooting him like a duck,” said Julian, speaking of the way a bird hunter trains his gun on a moving target. “All he was going to do was bark and keep him at bay; he’s never bit anybody.”

Julian says the cops showed up at the storage unit to check on a noise complaint called in from a drugstore across the street. (He says he went into the drugstore and asked.) A guy working at the storage business, who didn’t want his name used, said the noise came from a nearby construction site. Sabana, the police information officer, said there had been a lot of thefts in that area. So the police went to the location to see what was up.

“Around midnight, Shiner started growling, and I told him to relax, but he knew there was a man dressed in black creeping up on us from the gate, with a loaded gun,” Julian wrote about the incident. “So he went out barking, and I was not far behind him. I came out to greet whoever was there and tell Shiner to stop barking.”

Julian says he watched his dog bleed to death. Julian says the cops put him on the ground and cuffed him. No arrests were made.

Julian says one of the officers told him the police could shoot if they feel threatened. “They told me they had the right to shoot to kill.” Julian said.

He says the cop who shot Shiner kept telling him he was sorry. “And I said, ‘I forgive you,’” Julian said. He’s not upset with the officer, but with the policy.

Julian has asked the police monitor to investigate. “I want justice for Shiner,” he said.

He’s put together a Facebook page called Support for Shiner Bock “to complain about the police tactics to shoot to kill,” he said.

This isn’t the first time an Austin cop has shot and killed a dog. Last year, a police officer who felt threatened shot a blue heeler named Cisco on East Fifth Street when the police answered a domestic disturbance call at the wrong address. I’m still waiting for a report about a Westminster Kennel Club poodle being bagged in a gated community. Ain’t gonna happen.

Julian is heartbroken. “I got him on Valentine’s Day 2004,” he said. “I lived with him 24 hours a day. He’s always with me. He’s my companion, and I miss him a lot.”

Julian seems like a gentle soul. He lives out of his truck. He makes little clay figures that he sells at events around town, such as Hippie Church — that Sunday afternoon celebration of life at Maria’s Taco Xpress on South Lamar with live music, dancing, and lots of hooting and laughing.

To help him get through his grief, Julian bought a small pet lizard he calls Lizlie, an Australian bearded dragon named after the late Leslie, the Austin bearded cross-dresser who wore a thong and tiara while appearing on various Austin sidewalks. Julian walks around with the little lizard parked on his shoulder.

“He’s my dog replacement,” Julian said. Although I’m not sure the lizard can take Shiner Bock’s place.

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