Video and audio from the shooting recorded by the police officer’s dash-cam
The Austin Police Department is battling what appears to be worldwide outrage after an officer shot and killed a dog in a botched dispatch call. And the outrage is not likely to be tamped down after the release of video and audio of the shooting from the officer’s squad car.
APD held a press conference Monday to try and explain how the officer, who was dispatched to a domestic disturbance call Saturday in East Austin, ended up shooting a dog named Cisco owned by Michael Paxton.
Over 20,000 people have joined a Facebook page called “Justice for Cisco” in 24-hours. And the page’s followers have been heard loud and clear at Austin Police Department headquarters where they have been fielding what they say are “angry” phone calls all day long.
The shooting happened Saturday afternoon. Paxton was with playing with his dog, Cisco, in his East Austin backyard. He walked out to his driveway to get something out of his truck and was met by Austin Police Officer Thomas Griffin, who had his gun drawn and pointed at him. Griffin was responding to a report of domestic violence. The only problem is that he was at the wrong address and was pointing his pistol at the wrong man.
“Show me your hands, show me your hands, get the dog,” Griffin shouted all in the matter of mere seconds before firing his gun at Cisco and killing him on the spot.
A bewildered Paxton is heard on the recording asking the officer why he shot his dog. Some time later Officer Griffin realized that he was at the wrong address. The officer begins blaming Paxton for not having his dog on a leash in his own yard and that “his supervisor would explain it to him.”
The whole series of events was touched off by a 911 call made by a woman who said she witnessed a man and woman arguing. She reported that the altercation was at 2613 East 5th Street, which turned out to be the wrong address. That’s Paxton’s address. The couple involved in the dispute were next door.
The 911 caller reported that Paxton’s neighbors, Jesus Rivas and Maria Hernandez, were yelling at each other and that “(Rivas’) hands were around her shoulder blade and her throat, holding her there as he’s yelling at her and she’s trying to get away.”
The couple later told The Digital Texan that they had been fighting and that they were the ones that Officer Griffin was looking for, but that the fight was not what was reported to 911.
APD apologized to the news media at a Monday afternoon press conference, but they also backed the officer’s actions in killing Cisco.
“(Officer Griffin) advised (Paxton) to show him his hands; he ordered twice. As soon as he said that, a dog came charging him very quickly and aggressively,” APD Sgt. Dave Daniels.
Daniels said Griffin’s gun was drawn at “low ready position” when he approached the house, adding that “an officer has a right to use any force necessary when an animal is being aggressive.”
The video does not back up Daniels’ description of Griffin’s gun in the “low ready position” because everything took place out of the camera’s view. Paxton says Griffin’s gun was pointed directly at his chest.
Paxton shot this video with his cell phone shortly after the shooting
“I was terrified and I was afraid for my life. I thought he was going to shoot me,” said Paxton.
“It’s unfortunate that the actual shooting killed the gentleman’s dog,” Daniels told reporters Monday afternoon. “APD is extremely sorry that the dog owner lost his dog over this incident. It’s an unfortunate situation, but the officer was basically in retreat and he fired his weapon in self-defense.”
Thomas Griffin has been an APD officer for over two years. Daniels said Griffin is “upset” about the incident.
“(Officer Griffin’s supervisor) was at the scene, and she did apologize to the dog owner,” Daniels said.
Paxton says that isn’t true and that no apology was made to him. He also says Officer Griffin told his supervisor that Cisco jumped up to attack him, which Paxton says is also untrue. Paxton questions why APD chose to apologize to the news media in a press conference and not to him directly.
“I don’t expect this guy to lose his job,” Paxton said. “But something should be done about dealing with these kinds of situations. A dog’s going to bark to protect his owner, but that doesn’t mean you require deadly force.”
“I don’t have kids or much family. This dog was my child. He was intelligent, he was loyal, and he was well-behaved. He didn’t deserve what he got.”