Waco child recovers after Sheriff's K-9 unit bites him

Posted at 11:46 PM, Jul 02, 2015
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:29:50-04

A Waco child is recovering after a McLennan County Sheriff’s police dog bit him, leaving a one-inch cut on his forehead over a week ago.

The Narcotics and Patrol dog “Ace” has been in a working quarantine and under observation since the incident happened on June 21.

It is unclear if anyone will be or even should be punished for this incident.

Sheriff Parnell McNamara did not want to comment on any disciplinary actions. However, he did say the K-9 unit will remain on the force and it will keep its same handler, Deputy Esteban Bustillos.

He is the second handler Ace has had since he joined the force in 2014.

His former handler Cpl. Joseph Ballew was reprimanded after a 2014 investigation. The findings of the investigation state, Ballew was negligent and reckless in his handling of Ace. In addition, the lack of training and inconsistent training contributed to Ace’s aggressive behavior, according to the investigation documents obtained by News Channel 25.

Ace has been with his new handler, Bustillos, since October. Ace trained with him and was retrained separately as well.

On June 21, Bustillos who lives on Trice Avenue said he left the dog in a room with the door closed at his parents’ house while his sons were there. 

One of the boys opened the door and let Ace out, according to Bustillos’ statement on the incident.

According to the mother of the child, Penny Walter, her son went to hug the dog and it bit him on the top right side of his forehead, leaving a one-inch cut that required six stitches.

Bustillos was informed of the incident by his mother because he was not at the residence when the incident occurred. He said his child pet him on his head and neck and then without warning the K-9 turned toward the child and snapped at him barely catching his forehead with his canine teeth.

 “K-9 Ace did not lunge at him and immediately backed away. K-9 Ace did not attempt to attack him, or pursue any kind of further violence against my son," said Bustillos in a written statement part of the follow up report of the incident.

The mother of the children, who is Bustillos’ ex-wife, was in the living room when the incident occurred as she was picking up her children.

Walter said in a statement given to authorities: “This dog is known to be aggressive…the dog Ace was completely unprovoked when the attack occurred. He should not have been left with young children unsupervised.”

News Channel 25 contacted Walter who did not want to talk on camera and has not decided if she will file a lawsuit. She said her main focus is the safety of her children.

Bustillos said his children have been told before this incident occurred they can’t play with the dog when he is not present.

Sheriff McNamara said his office will take additional steps to ensure the safety of the children of the handler, including keeping them away from the dog.

The county has more than $20,000 invested in Ace, including individual training for the dog and dual training for the dog and its handlers.

Ace is one of the two Sheriff’s Office dogs certified as a National Narcotics Dog Detector. This is the first time in the history of the McLennan Sheriff’s Office both K-9 units have received this certification.

Ace could return to work on Monday after his quarantine is complete and test results are in.