"I Love Animals and People": On Trial for Animal Cruelty, Tyrone McGill Takes the Stand

Categories: City Hall, Crime

Tyrone McGill at Shelter.jpg
Late this afternoon, former animal shelter manager Tyrone McGill took the stand to testify in his defense at his felony animal cruelty trial, which began yesterday. While the prosecution attempted to paint a picture of McGill as an indifferent, unreachable bureaucrat who willfully allowed a cat to die behind a wall despite constant pleas from shelter employees, his own testimony was meant to humanize him -- and to point out the chaos at the shelter during the time he worked there. Jurors were told he and his wife have five daughters, that he's owned many dogs in his lifetime (offered as a response to earlier testimony that painted him as uninterested in animals), that he served 13 months in Vietnam as part of his stint in the Air Force, and that as part of his military service he worked with patrol and sentry dogs in the K9 unit.

Of course, that was in 1969. McGill went on to work for the U.S. Postal Service, Toys "R" Us and Chief Auto Parts before beginning his time with the city in 1993 as a water meter reader. He only became animal shelter after working in code compliance, helping bring up to code what he referred to as a "very bad, poor part of Dallas" in the southern sector.

McGill's attorney, Anthony Lyons, asked his client how he wound up at the shelter: "Did you apply for the job?"

"Oh, no," McGill replied emphatically, adding that he "didn't really know anything about it."

McGill testified that he was sent to the shelter to help clean it up at a time when it had "lots of issues."

"Were there issues with morale?" Lyons asked.

McGill paused for a long time before he replied.

"Yes," he said finally. "There were issues with morale."

He described the shelter when he arrived as "chaotic, backbiting, people fighting among themselves," and with myriad issues for a new building, including air conditioning problems, improper drainage and frequent outages of the hot water. He said too that "a lot of people didn't want me there because they knew my reputation. ... It was a mess." The second day he was there, he said, Willie McDaniels, the interim division manager, was transferred.

Lyons asked McGill why he stayed at such a challenging job.

"I had no ... " McGill began, then stopped himself. "I loved it, actually," he said. "I want to make it a better place."

In his first months at the shelter, McGill said, he was asked to make it a priority to catch loose dogs on the streets. He said that during a single night in Oak Cliff, his team made a sweep that netted more than 400 loose animals. But the facility itself was still plagued with problems; he described getting up in the middle of the night to help with a back gate that had fallen over. To say he was "busy," he said, "is an understatement."

When his testimony finally arrived at the actual cat-in-the-wall incident, McGill said that he'd expected Field Services Manager Adrian Vela to take care of the issue, since Vela was the man who had the traps.

But he added that he and workers from Equipment and Building Services had looked in "four to five" different areas of the shelter to find the "three to five" cats they thought to be missing at that time. He said he trapped one of those cats himself, while another fell out of the ceiling of the small dog room and onto an employee's head. When that happened, McGill said, he was fairly certain that had been the cat in the wall, especially when he heard the animal "was in bad shape," emaciated and covered in dust.

"This must be the cat everybody's been talking about," McGill said he thought at the time.

McGill also denied he'd ever told or implied to animal keeper Kimberly Killebrew that she would be fired for knocking a hole in the wall herself. The defense also returned to the fact that McGill was apparently investigating Killebrew at the time for having allegedly stolen animal services officer Mark Cooper's badge "and was using it to get into night clubs."

During cross examination, Assistant District Attorney David Alex tried again to paint McGill as a man so busy, so caught up with building maintenance, that he had no time to care for the animals who were supposed to be his charges.

"You were a good manager of buildings and people," Alex told McGill. "But you lost sight of why you were there, didn't you?"

"No, sir, no I didn't," McGill replied. "I love animals and people."

The jury is expected to decide tomorrow which version of McGill they find more believable.

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18 comments
ICanHazHole
ICanHazHole

I particularly love his head shot, with the cat behind him trying desperately to escape its cell.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

More results from "Politics In Action" in Dallas City Govt. If you're a "good enough" meter reader and you know how to brown-nose, you get promoted, even when you lack the actual experience. I still think this guy should lose his pension and do some time..

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Who would have guessed that a man with no background or training in management or running animal shelters who came from the code enforcement department couldn't run a major city's animal shelter?

Another outstanding job by the City Manager. Tell me again, how "professional" management is better?

DFWAnimalRescue
DFWAnimalRescue

Somebody needs to ask him how many of those animals he adopted he returned when they became too much trouble!

Guest
Guest

I refuse to believe that an animal services badge can get you into nightclubs.

james
james

when has anyone ever found competence, helpfulness, or brains from anyone in any city service? whether it's police, animal services, sanitation services or whatever...you deal with an apathetic lazy person who obviously hates to be there and hates you for asking them to simply do their job. they are full of reasons why they can't help with your problem , and quick to tell you that you must wait for their apathetic ass to drag around and fix at  your problem and you  must not take care of your own problem or you will be penisized. now one of their lazy inept managers has tripped up on the job with everyone playing the blame game in a workplace full of equally guilty dogs.

Huh?!!!
Huh?!!!

DFWAnimalRescue/Rebecca ... you were on the DAS Commission when the cat died. When did you learn about the cat in the wall? Why was a THLN board member fired for asking that question? Why were the shelter conditions so deplorable and morale so low under your watch? What exactly were you doing on the Commission anyway?

James
James

You people make me sick.  You love animals but don't give a dam about people.  Sending this man to prison will not bring the dam cat back to life but it will leave children without a father.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

Who else out gets badges? Code enforcement? Sanitation? Planning? Kind of weird.

David Cornell
David Cornell

I think it's used more as a threat.

"Don't want to let me in? How would you like 20 stray cats to suddenly show up at your velvet rope? They'll just play with it, and won't come in, but they'll meow a lot."

maryhasan
maryhasan

Just because you don't believe it doesn't mean it is not true.  You will probably be surprise at the number of things a badge will get you.  All people see is a badge.

lorlee
lorlee

Years ago, I served on that Commission.  It was basically just for show, met only quarterly and had virtully no power to do anything.

Mike
Mike

At some point we have to put our foot down and get something done about the numerous inept managers we have working for the city.  At some point that ineptitude can get someone or something killed.  I don't think he is a torturer.  He is just incredibly stupid and lazy and had no business being in that job.  Yes you can go to jail for being stupid and lazy.  Maybe his peers (I don't say former peers because this jerk is still on the payroll) will get the message.

engmofo
engmofo

My guess is your all good with the Micheal Vick thing too?

Red
Red

He broke the law and deserve to spend time in jail.  I mean he was in charge of animals well being and let it starve to death he deserves what he gets.  

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

They don't need no steeenking badges!

Guest
Guest

I refuse to believe that somebody posted a serious answer to my earlier statement of disbelief.

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