Skip to comments.Backlash Over Officer's Shooting of Dog Prompts Policy Review
Posted on 04/21/2012 3:15:22 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Inundated with angry calls and emails about the fatal shooting of a dog by an Austin officer, the Police Department on Wednesday said the officer involved was reassigned and that administrators are looking closely at the incident and may change policies, even as reports of past complaints about the dog emerged.
"This incident has drawn a lot of attention," Assistant Police Chief David Carter said. "We've received a lot of calls, a lot of emails from people who are very concerned. And we are, too."
In a case that has received international attention after it went viral on Facebook, Michael Paxton's blue heeler, Cisco, was shot Saturday by officer Thomas Griffin, who was responding to a call about a domestic disturbance. Griffin arrived at the wrong address by mistake Paxton's home and shot the dog after he said it charged him.
Paxton has denied that Cisco behaved aggressively. KXAN reported Wednesday that Animal Control records indicate that a man, who was not bitten, reported the dog was overly aggressive and charged him as he walked down the sidewalk. In another instance, the news station reported, a woman claimed that Cisco had bitten her as she tried to pet him in a parking lot.
Paxton, who said earlier that he may file a complaint against Griffin and take legal action, did not immediately return calls late Wednesday for comment on the piece.
Police struck a conciliatory tone early Wednesday. "The bottom line is, we have a citizen who was going about his business, who was not involved in criminal or suspicious activity," Carter said. "And he loses his dog. ... That's a big deal, and we recognize that."
Police policy states that an officer is authorized to use deadly force against an animal that "reasonably appears ... to pose an imminent threat to the safety of officers or others."
Carter said the official review includes the 911 call and how dispatchers responded to it, the officer's tactics and what happened afterward. Carter said the department is also examining its policies and training for animal encounters. "Is our policy sufficient?" Carter said. "Is our training sufficient when dealing with dangerous animals or dogs?"
Police Chief Art Acevedo was critical Wednesday of what he called a "mob mentality" response to the incident: "People are calling us and directing profanity-laced insults and threats toward our employees in writing and on telephone calls."
The criticism comes just days after thousands of Central Texans lined streets in an unprecedented show of support during the funeral procession of senior patrol officer Jaime Padron, who was fatally shot about two weeks ago while answering a call about an intoxicated person. Acevedo said officials are reviewing what effect that incident may have had on Griffin's actions.
Padron's death had a profound impact, Acevedo said, asking, "Did hypervigilance play a role" when Griffin pulled his gun on Paxton and moments later shot the dog? "These are a lot of questions that have to be thoroughly explored and we cannot allow a mob mentality to influence our follow-up in this matter," Acevedo said. "Please give us time to conduct a thorough and thoughtful review."
This is not the first time a deadly force against a dog has provoked controversy in canine-friendly Austin. In November, an officer shot a dog after it bit him outside at a North Austin grocery. In 2000, an officer responding to a home burglary alarm in Northwest Austin said he killed the owner's dog after it approached him barking.
Was it an African American dog?
"Please keep the dog frozen until the White House kitchen staff can arrange for pickup."
Talk with a Cop and he can tell you what rounds will put down a pit bull. I was astounded when it came up in a conversation.
Did the dog have a pattern of begging for skittles?
We need more relevant facts.
when Griffin pulled his gun on Paxton
So this jerk pulled a gun on an unarmed innocent guy guilty of standing in his own yard?
I see large lawsuit potential in this one.
Talk with a Cop
I joined Mr. Paxton’s Facebook page for this cause, and he comes across as pretty level-headed. He repeatedly ask for people to not harass the cops, and he really seems to want to handle this the proper way and maintain the higher ground here. I hope he is successful. This was a horrible situation.
That's an awful lot of serious serious errors in judgment. “Reassigned,” my keester. This clown is a danger to citizens, other officers and himself, and he needs to be fired.
Any of these trigger happy LEO jackboots who shoot a dog without provable good cause deserves whatever happens to his officious ass.
Well, we know that Austin’s motto is: Keep Austin Weird”.
They seem to be doing a good job of it.
I can’t imagine having that as a city motto...
Cop shoots my Pit mix he will regret it.
Let’s hope the policies STAY changed, and the chief isn’t just hoping he can return to the status quo when the anger dies down.
There’s no such thing as “your own yard” anymore.