Dog owner: "Police wrongfully shot my dog"

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

kvue.com

Posted on April 16, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 17 at 12:36 PM

AUSTIN -- A Facebook page created by an Austin dog owner has gone viral. Michael Paxton created the page, "Justice for Cisco," after he says his dog was wrongly shot by an Austin police officer.

"I just remember saying over and over, 'You shot my dog.' I was in shock. It's all surreal," said Michael Paxton.

A spokesman for the Austin Police Department confirms an officer responded to the 2600 block of East 5th Street Saturday at 4:42 p.m. The call came from a home next door to Paxton. Neighbors say a man and his girlfriend had been fighting. 

Paxton says the officer accidentally responded to the wrong house.

Paxton says he was playing Frisbee with his blue heeler, Cisco, when the officer drew his weapon and told Paxton to freeze. He says Cisco then ran toward the officer, and the officer fatally shot the dog.

"He told me to put my hands up over my head. I did. Then my dog came running along my right side and toward him. I told him, 'My dog won't bite, please don't shoot him,' but he did," said Paxton.

It's not until after the shooting, Paxton says, that the officer started asking questions.

"I told him, 'No, I don't have a girlfriend. I live here alone. I'm here with my dog that you just shot," Paxton said.

The Justice for Cisco Facebook page jumped from 8,000 "likes" Monday morning to more than 21,000 "likes" that same afternoon.

APD has been overwhelmed with hate phone calls. In a news conference Monday, APD Sgt. David Daniels said the dog came charging the officer in an aggressive way. He says the officer had the right to defend himself.

APD says the case is under review. The officer who reportedly shot Cisco, Officer Thomas Griffin, is still on full duty. He has been with the department for two years.

Paxton says he has cellphone video from the night of the shooting showing an officer carelessly shrugging his shoulders after Paxton says, "You shot my dog."

Sgt. Daniels says Officer Griffin is distraught over the situation. Daniels says we all have different reactions to stress, and he's not going to read into the officer's body language.

Neighbors KVUE spoke with say the seven-year-old, 50-pound blue heeler was always friendly and never vicious.

"No he's never attacked anybody or anything like that," one neighbor said.

Paxton hopes something good will come from his tragedy.

"It really seems kind of cliche, you know, but...anything positive that can...just something to prevent this from happening to somebody else," Paxton said in tears.

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