Forum

Austin police need to right death of canine

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On April 14, in Austin, Tx., police officer Thomas Griffin gunned down a man’s dog after reporting to the wrong house.

The woman who made the call was reporting a case of domestic disturbance to the police, but gave Griffin the incorrect address. Consequently, Griffin arrived at the house of Michael Paxton, who was playing with his Blue Heeler named Cisco in his backyard. Paxton was going to retrieve something from his truck in the driveway when he encountered Griffin, who immediately pulled a gun on him.

Following behind, an alarmed Cisco barked and began advancing toward Griffin. Paxton — who was still at gunpoint and unable to restrain Cisco — begged the officer not to shoot his dog, stating that he would not bite. Griffin ignored Paxton’s pleas and pulled the trigger, killing Cisco.

Some claim that Griffin was in a stressful situation, not knowing what to expect. But in any case, Griffin was responding to a domestic disturbance call and was ready to use a gun.

Not only did Griffin hold an innocent man at gunpoint, he also used deadly force on an animal that never attempted to attack him. Cisco was only barking and did not make contact with Griffin. Paxton claimed Cisco was docile and had never acted aggressively toward anyone. Nonetheless, Griffin pulled the trigger and Cisco suffered for the officer’s unwarranted reaction to the situation

I understand that Griffin faced an unpredictable situation when responding to Paxton’s house, but aren’t all police reports unpredictable? Officers are trained to handle stressful situations and unusual circumstances better than the average citizen.

An advantage of organized law enforcement is standardizing how potentially threatening situations are handled by officers of the law. Police training reiterates these measures — one of the most important being that deadly force should only be used as a last resort. As a police officer, Griffin failed to respond reasonably.

The most angering aspect about this situation is that Griffin is not currently facing any repercussions.

The Austin police department has done nothing to reprimand him for his lack of sagacity, claiming he acted in self-defense. Paxton has only received an apology from police chief Art Acevedo, not even from Griffin himself. In a video Paxton took after the incident, Griffin looks less than remorseful, making a shrugging gesture with his hands. Griffin had even tried to shift the blame, asking Paxton, “Why didn’t you get the dog?” Apparently, being held at gunpoint is not an excuse anymore.

An online petition called “Justice for Cisco” urges the Austin police department to reprimand Griffin. The petition currently has over 32,000 signatures, well on its way to the goal of 50,000.

I am disgusted by the Austin police department’s apathy to such a breach of justice. They need to recognize their wrongdoings, or people will continue to suffer from similar mistakes and rash actions made by law enforcement in the future.

The Austin police department has neglected its duty to righteousness; it is now our job to preserve it.

The petition can be found at www.change.org.