A former Williamson County deputy accused of being publicly drunk and resisting arrest at a barbecue restaurant in early March faces an additional charge of injury to a child after he allegedly punched a 12-year-old girl for no apparent reason at the same location, according to an arrest affidavit.
The man is identified in the documents as Jack William Danford, 42.
On Monday, March 5, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release saying the deputy was placed on “indefinite suspension,” which is the same as being fired.
Austin police said just before 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, officers responded to the 300 block of East Braker Lane at Oakwood BBQ for a call that a man had assaulted a 12-year-old child.
According to an arrest affidavit, between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Danford was sitting with his daughter and her boyfriend on the outside patio area drinking beers.
Danford's daughter told police that her father had come to visit her at work and had mentioned that he had been "drinking all day," according to arrest documents.
Danford's daughter told police that at some point, she noticed a small dog and a young girl running around their area. Danford's daughter said she saw her father pick up the dog and pet it before putting it down.
That affidavit said when the 12-year-old girl began to play with the dog, Danford allegedly jumped up from his seat and tackled the victim. Danford's daughter said she witnessed her father repeatedly punch the 12-year-old, who he had no verbal communication with beforehand, repeatedly.
To stop her father, Danford's daughter told police she began kicking him and striking him.
That's when the girl's stepfather, Russell Cope, stepped in.
Will Atkins, the manager at Oakwood BBQ, told KVUE Danford was a regular.
"He was a very normal person, he came in a lot of times with a lot of his detective buddies," said Atkins.
But that night was a different story.
"It was scary for everyone," said Atkins.
He said several employees tried to help the girl once she started screaming.
"She was scared, you know, we jumped in, we helped," said Atkins. "No one likes to deal with anything like that. It's a stressful situation for everyone, no one wants to get involved in that -- altercation with a police officer, you know."
While Atkins said Danford isn't welcome at the restaurant anymore, Cope hopes there's more punishment than that.
"It makes me feel like I can't believe they have cops out there that do that kind of stuff, you know, they're supposed to be protecting us," said Cope.
He said they're now glad that Danford has been charged with more than public intoxication and resisting arrest.
"I was upset, I thought he was going to get off 'cause he's a cop," said Cope.
At the scene, officials found Danford on the back patio sitting on the ground with his legs stretched out in front of him.
According to the affidavit, police smelled a strong odor of alcohol emitting from Danford.
When police asked Danford what was going on, he responded that "he had been drugged," the affidavit said. Danford allegedly had difficulty speaking to police and could not move.
"He was real drunk, I could smell the alcohol coming off of him, and I think he was on something else, he must have been on some other drugs, 'cause he was like unstoppable, he was like invincible," said Cope.
Police said Danford's immobility continued as they handcuffed him and attempted to escort him to a bench away from the other customers at the restaurant.
Due to Danford's inability to walk, slurred speech and being involved in a disturbance, police said he proved to be a danger to himself, and police informed Danford that he was going to be arrested.
Before sitting Danford down, police said they attempted to retrieve his wallet from his back right pocket to check for identification because he was unable to communicate effectively with police.
According to the affidavit, when the officer pulled the wallet out of his pocket, Danford grabbed the officer's wrist tightly, causing the officer to yell, "Let go of me!" Police said Danford didn't listen to the officers' commands to release his grip, and eventually, he and the officers fell to the ground in the struggle.
While on the ground, Danford did not release his grip on the officer, according to the affidavit.
The officer said they punched Danford in the back to encourage him to release his grip; however, when that didn't work, police said they used a baton on his lower back. Police said they were able to gain compliance from Danford and proceeded to arrest him.
On March 8, police interviewed the 12-year-old victim about the assault. She told investigators she went to get the dog from the patio when Danford pushed her to the ground and punched her with his fist on the left side of her face. The victim said she thought she was going to die. The victim also told police that she had never met Danford before he attacked her.
Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody said these allegations are serious and that's why he fired Danford. KVUE'S Jenni Lee spoke to Chody before the public was notified of the injury to a child charge.
"You just said you have so little information, why fire the deputy so quickly? Is it because his actions are so egregious?" Lee asked.
"Well when you talk about certain offenses, the rest of the story doesn't have to be there. In other words, when you talk about the charges we are talking about here, resisting arrest and public intoxication and from the story I was able to confirm which I won't share at this point, that demonstrates to me that we have enough to make the indefinite suspension," Chody said.
Chody went on to say, "there are a lot of concerns. Some that I can't even share. When we have employees on and even off duty, there's an expectation of professionalism, just normal behavior in some aspects and when you reflect negatively on the agency then I have a duty to act."
Danford is out on a $5,000 bail. As a condition of his bail, he has to conduct a psychiatric evaluation by March 19 and be under mental health supervision.
As of March 16, Danford has not been rearrested for the most recent warrant and is not in custody yet.