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Court docs: Autistic girl, 12, punched in the face by former deputy

Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-17 17:33:41-04

AUSTIN, TX (KXAN/CNN) - What happened at Oakwood Barbecue in north Austin, TX, on March 3 shocked everyone.

Investigators say then-deputy Jack Danford was off-duty and stopped by Oakwood for a few beers. He was a regular.

Court documents say Danford told a witness he had been drinking all day.

"It was about 7:30," said Russell Cope.

Cope was delivering wood to the restaurant around the same time and brought his puppy along.

Cope's girlfriend and her 12-year-old daughter were also there. When the little girl started playing with the dog on the patio, things turned violent.

Managers said Danford was sitting outside at a table.

Witnesses say a small dog was by Danford and when the girl came to pet the dog, they say that's when Danford got on top of her and started punching her in the face.

Two witnesses tried to pull him off of the girl. It didn't work."

That's when Cope said he jumped in and punching Danford in the face.

"I stepped back and I kicked him in the head with my boot and knocked him out," Danford said.

Police said the girl had bruises, scratches and a pulled muscle. Cope said she's healing physically.

It's the emotional trauma that's stuck with her.

"Every time we go out to eat somewhere else, she won't go get food without somebody going with her. She won't go to the restroom without someone going with her," Cope explained.

Danford was previously charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest. He was fired by the Williamson County Sheriff's Department earlier this month.

The Williamson County Sheriff also apologized for the incident and said his department demands professionalism from its employees.

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