Posted on April 16, 2012 at 9:28 PM
Tuesday, Apr 17 at 12:35 PM
AUSTIN – The fatal shooting of a pet dog by an Austin Police Department officer over the weekend is sparking outrage near and far.
As of Monday evening, close to 22,000 people had hit the "Like" button on a Facebook page called “Justice for Cisco,” the name of Austinite Michael Paxton's dog, which was killed by an officer.
On Saturday afternoon, a passerby called 911 around 4:30 to report a domestic disturbance.
What the responding officer, APD Officer Thomas Griffin, didn’t know when he arrived minutes later is that the 911 caller mistakenly gave the wrong address.
Upon arrival, the first person Officer Griffin encountered was Michael Paxton and his blue heeler, named Cisco.
Austin police confirmed Monday that Officer Griffin got out of his patrol car with his weapon drawn.
In audio captured on Officer Griffin’s dashboard camera, you can hear the officer give Paxton commands to put his hands up and to control his dog. Austin police removed a few seconds of the tape where Griffin fatally shoots the dog.
“Why didn't you get your dog when I told you to get your dog?" questioned Officer Griffin.
"I didn't know! You just came around the corner and told me to put my hands up. What am I supposed to do?” replied Paxton.
"But you knew your dog was back there, correct?" said Grffin.
“I didn't know anybody was here. I was just walking to my truck,” said Paxton.
Griffin told superiors at APD that the blue heeler was running toward him in an aggressive manner.
Paxton says Cisco would never attack anyone but admits that the dog was running toward Officer Griffin.
“He did challenge him. He came out of the yard barking, running towards him, as he probably would for anybody,” said Paxton.
APD's policy regarding discharging a firearm due to an animal is as follows:
"1. In circumstances where officers encounter any animal which reasonably appears, under the circumstances, to pose and imminent threat to the safety of officers or others, officers are authorized to use deadly force to neutralize such a threat.
2. In circumstances in which the officers have sufficient advanced notice that a potentially dangerous domestic animal (e.g., dog) may be encountered, such as in the serving of a warrant, officers should develop reasonable contingency plans for dealing with the animal without the use of deadly force (e.g., fire extinguisher, TASER device, oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, assistance of animal control). Nothing in this policy shall prohibit any officer from resorting to deadly force to control a dangerous animal if circumstances reasonably dictate that a contingency plan has failed or becomes impracticable."
“We're sorry that the dog owner lost his dog over the incident," said Sgt. Daniels. "It's an unfortunate situation, but the officer was basically in retreat, and he fired his weapon in self-defense.”
Officer Griffin remains on full-duty pending an internal review of the incident, which is customary whenever an officer fires a weapon.