APD upping charges against domestic violence offenders who cut off ankle monitors

Ankle monitors are one way police can protect domestic violence victims from their offenders once they are released from jail. But, some offenders are cutting them off.

Now, Austin police have come up with a new charge for those criminals that they hope will encourage them to keep those devices on.

20-year-old Daquillius Hennigan was booked into the Travis County Jail in May for assault with injury. His girlfriend told police he punched her in the face when she told him she was leaving him. She says he also told her she would regret making a police report.

It was not his first domestic violence arrest. In 2014, Hennigan served a six month sentence for assaulting his pregnant sister.

For the latest charge Hennigan was released on a personal bond with the requirement of wearing an ankle monitoring device.

Police say on June 23rd, Hennigan cut off his device and threw it behind a convenience store in North Austin.

"In these cases it causes great concern to the victim," said Donovan.

Detective Scott Donovan says Hennigan did not seek out his victim while off the monitor, but he says some offenders will.

Officers within the CRASH, or Coordinated Response to Abuse for Safe Homes, Unit at APD are immediately dispatched when offenders tamper or cut off their monitors

Hennigan was arrested for violating a bond condition.

But the CRASH Unit wanted to send a stronger message to offenders who try to go off the grid.

On Monday, officers charged Hennigan felony theft. It was a first for the department. The victim in the case is the company that assigns and tracks the devices. Each one costs $3,000 dollars.

"Basically, deprived Victim Safety First of their property. They're not government-funded. They're a private company. They have to pay for whatever is taken, stolen or damaged," said Donovan.

Donovan says this will be the new standard. If someone cuts of a monitoring device, they will be charged with theft.

"We're just trying to make people understand that there's going to be consequences when you cut off these monitoring systems," said Donovan.