On Day One of Animal Cruelty Trial, A Simple Question: How Hard Is It to Free a Trapped Cat?

Categories: City Hall, Crime

Tyrone McGill at Shelter.jpg
Tyrone McGill
After completing jury selection yesterday, the prosecution began laying out its case this morning in the felony animal cruelty trial of former animal shelter manager Tyrone McGill, who is currently on administrative leave and continues to draw a paycheck from the city of Dallas. "This is not a difficult case," Assistant District Attorney David Alex promised the jury. "It's as simple as a picture."

Displayed on several screens throughout the courtroom was the picture in question: that tiny hole in the flimsy sheet rock wall that was ultimately all it took to free a cat from where it had been trapped for at least 15 days. "It didn't take the jaws of life or fire and rescue to cut this hole," Alex said.

Instead, it took a knife from the euthanasia room and about 10 minutes to remove the corpse from behind the break-room wall, where it had gotten stuck after escaping from its cage some 15 days earlier. At that point, it was badly decomposed, its fur coming away in clumps. According to the testimony of animal cruelty investigator Domanick Munoz this afternoon, when found, the cat's nails were also worn down from jumping up and clawing against the wall in a desperate bid to free itself. Throughout this first day of testimony, from both the prosecution and the defense, a basic question arose: How could it be so hard to free a cat from a wall?

According to the prosecution, the answer lies with McGill, who, according to shelter employees, promised repeatedly to "take care of" the issue and then failed to act. According to former shelter worker Kimberly Killebrew and Munoz, McGill also discouraged shelter workers from taking direct action to free the animal. He implied that they would face termination for destroying city property if they did so.

"He was actually giving them a threat," Alex told the jury. "This wasn't a priority to him. He had the authority to stop the suffering, and on that Tuesday he flat-out told [Killebrew], 'We're not going to do it.'"

But throughout the day, defense attorney Anthony Lyons pointed out repeatedly that the same rules that forbid destruction of city property also prevented McGill and other supervisors from taking actions that could potentially endanger the safety of city employees. He also asked Killebrew, Munoz and another shelter worker who testified today, Adam Cooper, why they hadn't considered it their responsibility to free the cat.

"You testified to the jury about how concerned you were about that cat," he said to Killebrew. "So why didn't you cut a hole in the wall?... You just testified, blaming him for not doing it, why didn't you do it?" Furthermore, he said, McGill had made efforts to free the cat, including lifting ceiling tiles and calling Equipment and Building Services.

In his testimony, Munoz painted a picture of a dysfunctional climate where animal shelter employees were frightened to step outside the chain of command for fear of losing their jobs. The prosecution read portions of a scathing email he wrote to McGill and Munoz's own supervisor, Adrian Vela, on May 18, the day the rotting cat was ultimately removed from the wall. At that point, the smell of decomposing flesh was so strong it carried all the way down a long hall from the break room where the cat was walled up.

"Why is it so hard to have a cat removed from the wall, dead or alive?" Munoz asked. "... This is unsanitary, unhealthy, and socially unacceptable. ... Why are we turning a blind eye to this situation?"

The prosecution will continue to present its case tomorrow.



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48 comments
maryhasan
maryhasan

I'm sure Tyrone reported this problem to the city manager's office.  He will end up taking the rap like so many other city employees do.  Most city employees are like the 3 monkeys, hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil.  It is called job security.  Have you asked yourself why he was not fired or even why he is on paid leave.  I bet he did what he was suppose to do, report it to his higher ups and waited for instructions.  As a retired city employee who spoke on behalf of many city employees, I know how the game is played.  I was one of the few employees who could speak up and not worry about being fired.  It was only because I worked in the City Council Office.  I remember telling my councilmember that I was tired of speaking up for people  who wouldn't defend themselves and he always told me, if not you, then who.  He encouraged me to help those employees and to make their issues public.  

Charlie Kelly
Charlie Kelly

Cat's in the wall, huh?!?  Now you're speaking my language.... The cat's in the wall because it wants to be in the wall.  A whole heard of cats followed me over here, I say we put another one in the wall with a string tied to it's foot, the two become do-dependent, then you tug on the string and voila! Once he's out you throw on some Kitten Mittens (patent pending) and next time it gets in the wall, you won't hear it.  No problem!

CONCERN CITIZEN
CONCERN CITIZEN

I TOTALLY AGREE! OMG! THIS WAS THE ANIMAL SHELTER'S MANAGER HE DESERVES THE MAX!

Russp
Russp

If Dallas is in the name, mismanagement is part of the game. Some examples; City of Dallas, Dallas County Constables Office, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas ISD; the list can just keep going.

coolonion
coolonion

I don't understand why the workers didn't just defy him and break down that wall.  If it were me, I'd rather be fired and charged with destruction of property than to allow an animal to suffer.  Shame, shame, shame on all of them.

iamronburgundy
iamronburgundy

This is all such bullsh. Neither Tyrone or any other employee of the animal shelter would have been fired for cutting that hole and letting the cat out. Oh and if you're worried about getting electrocuted... move the hole over and up a few inches until you hit the stud in the wall.... I bet the starving cat finds it's way out. This "destruction of city property" argument is so shoe-string it's ridiculous. Everyone realizes that this argument was the first thing McGills attorney latched onto in their first meeting, right?

"You couldn't cut it because the City would fire you for SAVING AN ANIMALS LIFE, since in doing so you incurred a $5 drywall patch expense. I believe we can win this thing Tyrone."

Don't get distracted by this nonsense. McGill is in charge so he's the one who should have TAKEN CHARGE and saved that animals life. Not ignored it. The other employees should have used common sense and busted the cat out also. If McGills threat isn't empty then he fires that person. THEN that person goes to the paper and get's a heart wrenching story with a picture of them holding the now fat and happy cat saying how they were shit-canned by the Dallas Animal Shelter for being a good person. Boom. Recompense from the City of Dallas, and a higher paying job at Operation Kindness or somewhere else.

Deacon Blues
Deacon Blues

I was at the trial and the comedy of errors by the entire staff of the Dallas Animal Shelter was in full display.... Anyone  of the employees could have called EBS to free the cat. It wasn't just about destroying City of Dallas property...it was about too that the wall was located near an electrical socket and a functioning water fountain....The man wasn't even at work a great deal of the days the cat was stuck, but he even went on Sunday to try to look for the cat...Oh, too they neglected to say that the woman who initially brought up the charges was recently disciplined by Mr. McGill for stealing an animal officers badge and using it illegally to present herself as an officer..... Things aren't as easy as they seem Chris Danger. And yes, I have a preponderance of gray matter in between my ears.... 

NONE
NONE

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY ABANDONED CATS IN DALLAS SHELTERS IF EVERYONE CARES SO MUCH ABOUT POOR CATS? THIS CAT WAS GOING TO GET KILLED IF NOT ADOPTED, MOST LIKELY NOT GOING TO GET ADOPTED. SAD STORY, HARDLY SUCH AN ISOLATED CASE OF ANIMAL DYING. SO THE CITY BUREAUCRACY MAKES PEOPLE AFRAID TO LOSE THEIR JOBS IF THEY USE COMMON SENSE....WHO SHOULD BE ON TRIAL...THE CITY?  NOT THE GUY GOING BY "RULES" THAT ARE STUPID, BUT WRITTEN BY BUREAUCRATS THAT ARE HIRED TO WASTE MONEY WRITING RULES.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Same reason you cant not get a street paved,keep a Park open.

Albert Finney000
Albert Finney000

"... frightened to step outside the chain of command for fear of losing their jobs..."That what government do.

james
james

i wonder where all the publicity and outcry and felony charges were when PEOPLE died in police custody/jail?

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

This case is one of the most heart-breaking ive ever heard when it comes to animal welfare, especially due to the fact the party in question had the ability to save the cat. Instead, like the idiot he was, he allowed an defenseless animal die a horrible tortured death all because of "politics". I hope the jury sees fit to throwing this worthless piece of garbage in the slammer for the maximum and makes sure he never sees a dime of his city paycheck or pension ever again.

anon
anon

I was at the trial and it seems to me that Tyrone really enjoys rounding up and killing animals.  Why did he say the cat would have been killed anyway if they  would have got it out of the wall?. So,  it is ok to abuse animals because they are goiing to be killed later anyway. That is what I heard him say!! .

anon
anon

Charlie you SICK CREEP!!!  You need to learn to spell.  HERD,  HERD,  HERD, YOU IDIOT!!!

maryhasan
maryhasan

They were just like him, afraid of loosing their job.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

These workers were presumably dedicated to the health and safety of animals, especially animals in their charge, and not a single one helped?  They kept eating lunch in the break room while the cat tore its claws to bits trying to escape?  I hope McGill gets his due, but I fear he won't.  All these others who stood by should be fired; they have no place there.

maryhasan
maryhasan

That person may have gone to the paper and may have gotten their job back but life as they knew it would have been hell.  They would have ended up getting fired for some other BS reason, believe me. 

maryhasan
maryhasan

You are absolutely correct. 

Montemalone
Montemalone

If the guy supposedly running the show couldn't manage his employees, then why is he in charge?

Lee
Lee

#CAPSLOCKISNOTCRUISECONTROLFORAWESOME

Paul S.
Paul S.

No, that's what cowards do. Of course in the world of corporate executives, they can take a chance in making choices that might jeopardize their job because they have that delightful severance package to fall back on.

maryhasan
maryhasan

Good question.  Think about the answer.

NONE
NONE

Because his job was not cutting holes in walls.  He was doing his regular job.  He did not put the cat in the wall.   The cat caused its own circumstance, which is just sad, but no more.

NONE
NONE

pretty compassionate about animals, not so much about humans eh Chris?? should he also be burned at the stake, or lynched for animal cruelty against god?

maryhasan
maryhasan

You are full of it!  Just because you perceived it to be a certain way doesn't make it true.  Judging from some of your comment, I have a certain perception of you and by God I hope it isn't true.  You are probably one of the other workers at the shelter.

Charlie Kelly
Charlie Kelly

Always Sunny in Philadelphia reference, asshole.  Charlie cant spel at all, yer lucky I didnt inclood mor.

maryhasan
maryhasan

He had a title but the bottom line is and was, he didn't run anything.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Good question, Tyrone McGill comes off like he's a few cards short of a deck in the mental department. Since they've replaced him down at the shelter, i've heard things have turned for the better. What I take issue with is this guy still getting to collect a city paycheck even while on trial for being a screw up. I say yank his pay and pension when he's found guilty and make him serve time..

maryhasan
maryhasan

You can call them cowards but people who are desperate to keep a roof over their heads and provide for their families, do what they have to do.  May not be right, may not seem too bright but they know how the game is played and they did what they had to do to keep  their job. 

NONE
NONE

ARE YOU POSSIBLY AWARE THAT THERE ARE 49 MILLION PEOPLE RIGHT NOW WITHOUT JOBS?  JUST MAYBE BEING AFRAID OF LOSING YOUR INCOME AND ABILITY TO FEED YOUR FAMILY OUT WEIGHTS AN ABANDONED CAT'S LIFE.  WOULD YOU BE HAPPIER IF THE GUY WERE SUING THE CITY FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT OR SUCH BLATHER INSTEAD OF BEING IN COURT OVER NOT CUTTING A HOLE IN A WALL?  IN NEW YORK CITY PEOPLE ARE NOT ABLE TO CUT HOLES IN WALLS.  MUST HAVE A UNION CARPENTER COME CUT THE HOLE, THEN A CITY INSPECTOR AND CODE ADMINISTRATOR AND A PERMIT ISSUED TO REPAIR THE HOLE.

MUCH ADO OVER NOTHING MUCH MORE THAN A SAD STORY AND A BUREAUCRACY LIKE ALL CITIES HAVE.

ICanHazHole
ICanHazHole

Actually the cat being in a shelter to begin with was not caused by its own circumstances.

coolonion
coolonion

People cause their own circumstances, animals don't.

Montemalone
Montemalone

WRONG, None, which I presume refers to the amount of gray matter between your ears.

His job was the welfare and safekeeping of the animals under his care at the shelter.He is the worst of the worst type of show up to collect a check bureaucrat. If only he could be sealed up in a wall and ignored.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano

The two are not mutually exclusive,  In my experience they generally go hand-in-hand.    Burned at the stake is a little harsh.  Hard time at Huntsville will do just fine.

And major congratulations on finding the CapsLock button and learning how to use it.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Wow, and you typed that all by yourself...im proud, did you also ride on the front seat of the little yellow bus to school/work this morning too?

Beardbass
Beardbass

Screw you none............hope you get stuck somewhere where you could be rescued and you are abandoned and left to die you piece of crap!

Brian
Brian

cause human can take of themselves. this animals were domisicated as pets and we have a duty to protect them. A cat cannot cut himself out of a wall. A dog cannot say know to a forced fighting ring.

maryhasan
maryhasan

Crap.  Some of your posts seems like you have a few cards short of a deck but that doesn't make it true.

Paul S
Paul S

So in extension of that logic, should the desperate working class lose that job it is ok to rob and steal to keep said roof over their head and families provided for?

People have to stand up for what is right, I have quit jobs because of a moral stance. Just ask Joe Paterno what the consequences are of not taking a stand.

maryhasan
maryhasan

You are absolutely correct.  It is easy to say what you would have done but if you want to keep working for the city, you don't rock the boat.  When the boat is rocked, management leaves you holding the bag.

coolonion
coolonion

Oh, gee, so you're saying that as long as there are people without jobs, we can abuse animals?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

1. Turn off CapsLock. Holy crap.2. The US unemployment rate is 8.8%. The US population is 312 million. There's no way in hell 49 million people are without jobs, seeing how 8.8% of 312 million is 27.45, and the total population doesn't break out the number of children, retired, or people otherwise excluded from unemployment data.3. Don't be a moron.

anon
anon

LET'S ENTOMB YOU AND CALL IT A SAD STORY AND MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.  (WHICH IT WOULD BE )

Brian
Brian

chill out a-hole. we all know there are no jobs out there because the rich aren't making them. bullshit call on the union nonsense. you know nothing about NYC obivously are seriously uneducated and ignorant. how about you go out and make some jobs for these people and stop being such a total waste of space.

maryhasan
maryhasan

We have a duty to protect children and the old but that doesn't always happen.

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