APD receives backlash after officer shoots, kills dog

Sarah White

In response to community outcry, the officer involved in a fatal shooting of a dog in East Austin has been reassigned and an internal investigation has been opened, said Austin Police Department representative Sgt. David Daniels.

Officer Thomas Griffin responded with backup to a 9-1-1 call reporting a domestic disturbance at 2613 E. Fifth St. on Saturday afternoon. Dog owner and Austin resident Michael Paxton resides at the address and was outside at the time, playing Frisbee with his dog Cisco. The dog ran towards Griffin as soon as he stepped from the car, Daniels said. Griffin yelled at Paxton to restrain his dog, even though Paxton had no opportunity to react, Daniels said. Griffin then shot one round into the animal, which was fatally wounded.

Daniels said the address given to Griffin was not the residence of the individuals involved in the domestic disturbance. Although reports conflict as to why Griffin was at Paxton’s address, most indicate that he received the wrong address.

Travis County Animal Control documents published by KVUE indicate that Cisco had a history of aggressive behavior. William Harris, a neighbor of Paxton’s, filed a report with Animal Control in March complaining of an incident with a violent animal at the same address to which officer Griffin reported on Saturday. Harris confirmed that the dog he reported in March is Cisco.

“It’s the same dog without a doubt,” said Harris. “I recognized the animal as soon as I saw images of it on the news, only I think the photo that is being distributed must have been of when that dog was a puppy. He looked much more vicious and dangerous [at the time of the reported incident].”

Harris said the dog was acting very aggressively and he felt so threatened that he took off his backpack and prepared to defend himself. He said Paxton was holding the dog by the collar which was the only thing that stopped the animal from attacking.

“[Paxton] warned me to stop yelling and said that if I continued to make noise the dog would bite me,” Harris said, “I will never forget that day. I will never forget the look in the dog’s eyes.”

Harris said he does not like to see an animal get killed, but he feels like he can relate to the experience of officer Griffin.

Astronomy sophomore Travis Cormier said he knew Paxton through a local motorcycle group. Cormier has helped organize a Facebook group designed to raise awareness about Cisco’s death. The group is titled “Justice for Cisco” and has received over 95,000 likes online.

“I just hope that we spread the news,” Cormier said. “The cop had other means of protecting himself. From what I was told, he had a Taser and pepper spray. Why he chose a firearm, I don’t think any of us will ever know.”