(Meredith) — A former Texas sheriff’s deputy is in trouble with the law after authorities say he punched a 12-year-old girl with autism. KXAN reports the incident started when the girl wanted to pet someone’s dog.

Witnesses said the off-duty deputy, Jack Danford, was drinking all day at a barbecue restaurant in North Austin, Texas. Russell Cope was also at the restaurant with his girlfriend and her 12-year-old daughter who has autism. The girl was reportedly playing with a small dog when Danford jumped on top of her and started punching her in the face. That’s when Cope stepped in. He said, “I stepped back and I kicked him in the head with my boot and knocked him out.”

Cope said the daughter suffered bruises, scratches, and a pulled muscle, but she’s healing — at least physically. He said the emotional trauma might take more time to heal.

“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 said.

Danford was charged previously with public intoxication and resisting arrest.

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