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APD reviews policy in wake of dog shooting

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TWC News: APD reviews policy in wake of dog shooting
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Austin police are reviewing their policies after an officer shot and killed a homeowner's dog last week.

Officer Thomas Griffin was responding to a domestic disturbance call, but went to the wrong house. Audio and dashcam video indicate the officer shot Michael Paxton's 7-year-old blue heeler three seconds after telling Paxton to put his hands up.

Paxton had been playing in the backyard with his dog, Cisco, moments before the shooting. Now, Paxton is a man without his best friend.

"I don't have a whole lot of family, so he meant a lot to me" Paxton said. "He went with me everywhere I could possibly take him."

Paxton says his dog wasn't acting aggressively and that there needs to be accountability for the officer's actions.

"In my opinion, they were inappropriate," Paxton said. "This isn't about bashing law enforcement, this is about education, and coming up with a positive solution," Paxton said.

Assistant Police Chief David Carter says department officials are investigating all aspects of the shooting.

"Mr. Paxton, you know, through no fault of his own, was contacted by the police and clearly didn't understand what was going on and it resulted in the loss of his dog,” he said. “So if people have just a little bit of patience with us, we will get to the bottom of that and look and find out if our policy and training is sufficient."

Carter says they don't want to overreact, so no policy will be formally changed right away.

"We'll be looking at to see if there are best practices out there. So hopefully in this tragic event, Mr. Paxton's loss is not in vain," Carter said. "The worst thing we can do is suddenly rush to change a policy, without understanding all the aspects surrounding the call. How the call was dispatched, how the call was responded to."

Paxton hopes the investigation will be part of a bigger movement.

"I think if there were more distinct guidelines in this type of situation, it would have been avoided," Paxton said. "I owe it to my boy to see it happen."

A Facebook page set up calling for “Justice for Cisco” has a following of more than 80,000 supporters, and growing.

Austin police say the officer involved in the shooting was reassigned because the case has gotten so much attention.

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