Photo: Michael Paxton and his dog Cisco. The 7-year-old Blue Heeler was fatally shot by an Austin polie officer
Four seconds. That is how fast a misunderstanding escalated to the death of a man’s best friend at the hands of an Austin police officer.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo has apologized to Michael Paxton, owner of a 7-year-old Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) that was fatally shot over the weekend, saying, “Regardless of whether or not it’s justified or not justified, Mr. Paxton saw his dog killed, saw his dog die, and my heart goes out to him. I just want to say I’m sorry on behalf of all the department, I’m sorry you saw that. I know the pain’s real. We all love our pets and I hope we can get through it.”
On April 14, A woman believing she had witnessed a domestic dispute between a Hispanic man with salt-and-pepper hair and a woman attempting to get away from him. She called the police to report the incident and gave the dispatcher an address. That address would turn out to be home to three different residences, one belonging to Michael Paxton.
Parked just a few minutes away, Officer Thomas Griffin responded to the call and drove to the address he was given. He explained to his dispatcher that the address was a split residence and got out of the car.
As Officer Griffin, a two-year veteran of the Austin Police Department, walked up the driveway, Paxton, a white male with reddish-brown curly hair, says he was walking to his truck, having no idea Griffin was there until the officer began shouting and drew his gun.
While I was at gunpoint my dog came from my backyard barking at the officer. I yelled for the officer to not shoot my dog, that he will not bite, but the officer immediately shot and killed my dog right in front of me.
I was unable to stop or restrain Cisco because I was being held at gunpoint.
Watching/listening to Officer Griffin’s dash cam footage, it’s easier to understand just how quickly everything unfolded.
What has upset many is not simply that the Cisco was shot, but that Officer Griffin seemed to immediately place all blame on Paxton, who while “putting his hands up” was also supposed to restrain his dog, Cisco. All this, as noted earlier, happened in a matter of seconds.
Though he has a right to be upset with Austin PD and specifically Officer Grifffin, on his Justice for Cisco page, Paxton has stated that he “will not tolerate defamatory comments towards law enforcement, or Officer Griffin.” Adding, “I will have you comment deleted and block you. This page is for positive change. Not negative defamatory comments that defeat every step forward we make for Cisco.”
Wednesday, Justice for Cisco posted:
Currently, we are looking into specific policies and laws that are, or are not, in place for situations such as this, and for those that ARE, are they actively being followed. We have recently learned that a similar incident occurred in September 2000, and that pressure was put on the City. We are seeking the details of this, as well as other similar occurrences, and trying to determine the outcomes.
Our long-term goal is to make changes in the City’s policy that are clear, and to be sure that there is accountability for those that do not follow protocol. We are also hoping to implement into the APD’s training program (if there isn’t already one in place), specific training for the proper handling of animals in domestic situations.
What do you think? After watching/listening to the officer’s dash cam footage, would you say the officer was justified in shooting the man’s dog?