“Unlawful seizure of property”: Couple suing City of Waco after police officer fatally shot their dog when dispatched to wrong address

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 3:32 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Cassandra Page and Matthew Vasquez are suing the City of Waco after Waco Police Officer Javon A. Moon fatally shot their dog, Finn, when Moon was dispatched to the incorrect address on June 3.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages at more than $200,000, but less than $1-million, from the City of Waco, alleging Moon’s killing of their dog amounted to a seizure of property without due process of law.

“Plaintiffs had a constitutional protected property interest in Finn and in enjoying him for the rest of his natural life,” the lawsuit states, ”Waco Police Department Officer Javon A. Moon’s actions of killing Finn amounted to an unlawful seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1 S19 of the Texas Constitution.”

The couple also intended to sue officer Moon. On Sept. 18, however, the City of Waco filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss officer Moon as a defendant in the lawsuit, arguing the Texas Tort Claims Act requires the plaintiffs to elect whether to pursue their tort claims against the individual employee or the governmental entity.

“When a plaintiff sues both a governmental entity and its employee under any cause of action sounding in tort, the election remedies of the TTCA requires tort claims against the employee to be immediately dismissed upon the motion of the governmental entity,” the motion states.

The judge on Sept. 19 granted the City of Waco’s motion and dismissed officer Moon as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The shooting happened at about 3:17 p.m. on June 3 when a woman called 911 to report a man kicked in her door. The dispatcher reportedly heard a man in the background saying, “I’m not trying to hurt you,” and the call was then disconnected, police said.

At the time of the shooting, Waco Police Department Spokeswoman Cierra Shipley said that when dispatchers entered the address into their system, the address autocorrected from 3204 N. 20th A Street to 3204 N. 20th Street. “Our officers acted in good faith to the dispatched address,” Shipley wrote in a news release.

When the officers arrived at 3204 N. 20th, they noticed the backdoor ajar, and announced their presence. Shortly thereafter, the officers encountered multiple dogs and retreated.

“One dog who acted more aggressively, lunged at our officer, retreated, and then lunged at the officer again,” Shipley said, “After the dog lunged a second time toward the officer, the officer made the decision to fire one round of his duty-issued weapon, striking the dog.”

Page told KWTX she was taking a nap inside her home when she heard her five dogs barking in the backyard and decided to check it out. “As soon as I heard them barking I heard a taser, a gunshot,” Page said.

Page took the dog to the emergency medical clinic. A Waco police commander met the family at the clinic, offered his sympathy, and provided information regarding services provided as a result of the incident. Page told KWTX her and her boyfriend made the tough decision to pull Finn off of his breathing tubes.