Austin Police officer fatally shoots dog

Sylvia Butanda

A response to a domestic disturbance issue in East Austin left the dog of an Austin resident dead due to a misunderstanding of the location of the disturbance by the Austin Police Department.

Officer Thomas Griffin and backup officers responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting a domestic disturbance at 2613 E. Fifth St. Saturday afternoon. The officers did not locate the man and woman in question but encountered Austin resident Michael Paxton, who lived at the address and was walking from his backyard, where he was playing frisbee with his dog, to his truck in the front yard.

“The officer yelled ‘Let me see your hands’ and Paxton’s dog, named Cisco, came running from the backyard and toward the officer,” said Sgt. David Daniels of the APD Public Information Office. “[Griffin] yelled at the subject to grab his dog and at that point, the owner had no opportunity to react and the officer shot one round at the dog.”

Daniels said whomever contacted 9-1-1 gave the address where the man and woman were seen, but the address was not the location of their residence. The address that was given was confirmed to pertain to multiple dwellings, Daniels said. Reports conflict as to how Officer Griffin ended up at Paxton’s residence, although most indicate that the officer received the wrong address.

“APD has apologized to Mr. Paxton for the loss of his dog but we can’t apologize for the officer doing his job,” Daniels said. “There are certain circumstances that officers encounter and if there is an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or those around him, they have to use force.”

Senior police officer Dennis Farris said the issue is currently under review by APD to determine if Officer Griffin violated any policies.

“Officer Griffin is very upset about this and none of us ever want to use our weapon and discharge it,” Harris said.

In response to the incident, the Justice for Cisco campaign page on Facebook has gotten more than 50,000 likes since its launch on Sunday.

Candace Hogan, a close friend of Paxton, said just thinking about what happened to Cisco infuriates her.

“I heard the pain in [Paxton’s] voice and saw it on his face when I found him curled up crying with Cisco’s body,” Hogan said. “I am trying to put that anger into good energy by helping Mike get justice for Cisco and, hopefully, find a little peace and comfort.”

Astronomy sophomore Travis Cormier knows Paxton through a local motorcycle group and said he is helping the campaign by supervising the comments left on the Facebook page and answering emails and messages people send.

Cormier said he was devastated when he heard the news because he has played with Cisco multiple times at Paxton’s residence.

“Cisco has never displayed aggressive behavior unless you are just messing with him, as most dogs do,” Cormier said. “He was protective but I’ve never seen him bite or even scratch anyone.”

Cormier said he hopes students react in support of the situation but in a proper manner.

“We don’t want to spread the message that police are bad or evil, just that an unnecessary use of violence shouldn’t be happening,” Cormier said. “I would hope that students would also see this as an opportunity to help take peaceful political action and realize that we don’t need to respond to violence with violence.”

Published on Wdnesday, April 18, 2012 as: Austin Police officer fatally shot dog at wrong adress