Police investigating pictures of girl dragged in Walmart

There is no shortage of opinions out there about what should happen to a dad seen dragging his 5-year-old daughter by the hair through Wal-Mart.

CLEVELAND, TEXAS - Pictures posted on Facebook that show a man grabbing his daughter by her hair in a Liberty County Walmart have been shared more than 160,000 times since they were first posted online Monday night.

Despite comments on social media calling for the man to be arrested, authorities say they won't rush judgment.

"We are looking at the bigger picture and seeing what is going on," explained Texas Child Protective Services spokeswoman Tejal Patel. "If you just look at just the comments, you are playing judge and jury."

Cleveland Police and CPS are both looking into the case. The father is cooperating, according to investigators.

"We are going through the steps of interviewing the father, interviewing the child, interviewing any other children in the home and getting an idea what the home life is like," Patel said.

According to CPS, Texas law allows parents to use "reasonable" corporal punishment to discipline their children. But what constitutes reasonable?

"Any form of punishment that results in an injury is when we would get involved," Patel said. "If it leaves bruising, marks or scratches, that's when it becomes a legal issue."

When police responded to the Cleveland Walmart Monday night, officers said the 5-year-old girl did not show any bruises, marks or any other signs of abuse. 

The girl was crying and asked to be taken back to her father when officers interviewed her, according to Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussard.

Broussard says his department won't make an arrest purely because of pressure from social media. He says his detectives need time to gather evidence before making the decision to charge a suspect.

Even if there are no criminal charges, CPS could potentially order the father to take parenting classes or a course in anger management.

Investigators say they applaud the witness for calling police and documenting what happened to the girl. Under Texas law, people have a legal obligation to report it if they suspect abuse, according to CPS.

"It's about children and we all have an obligation to protect the youngest ones," Patel said.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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