Austin police field ‘serious threats’ after officer kills man’s dog

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:45 EDT
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Cisco the dog, killed by an Austin police officer. Photo: Screenshot via kVUE.com.
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The phones have been ringing off the hook at Austin police headquarters after an officer killed a local man’s dog last weekend, and Chief of Police Art Acevedo is finally feeling the siege mentality.

In an open letter to the community sent Wednesday night, Acevedo blamed a “mob mentality” for driving a growing public outcry, claiming the department had received a number of “serious threats” in the process.

“As to the mob mentality I reference [...] sorry, but when people are calling us and directing profanity laced insults and threats toward our employee(s) in writing and on telephone calls, I can’t think of how else to describe it,” he wrote. “While I expect to be subjected to public scrutiny, I don’t expect people in this department to be subjected to the treatment they are receiving.”

“We aren’t ignoring the tragic death of Cisco the dog,” Acevedo added. “We are conducting a comprehensive review of the incident to include the officer’s actions, as well as our protocols/training and will report our findings to [the dog's owner] and the community we serve.”

Officer Thomas Griffin, who’s at the center of the controversy for killing a blue heeler named Cisco after he responded to a disturbance call at the wrong address, has yet to face any disciplinary action. His regular duties were changed, which the department said was for his own safety.

Video of the incident was published online this week after local media obtained the dashboard camera footage from Griffin’s vehicle. The dog’s owner, Michael Paxton, also filmed his dog laying dead as two officers stand nearby, unsure of what to do. At least some of the response can also be attributed to a Facebook campaign, Justice for Cisco, which asked supporters to provide APD with some community feedback.

The department has said it would evaluate their training process, and local media reported that Padron received high marks on his last evaluation. Acevedo has since apologized to Paxton and said that Griffin, a dog owner as well, would be meeting with Paxton soon to apologize.

The dog reportedly had a history with local animal control: in 2007 a woman claimed that Cisco bit her, but that it was minor. Another man had alleged as recently as March that the dog acted aggressively toward him as well.

This video is from Austin news station KXAN, broadcast Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

Acevedo: ‘Vile’ threats aimed at APD: kxan.com

This video is from an Austin police dashboard camera, filmed on April 6, 2012 and published to YouTube on April 17, 2012.

[Image: Screenshot via KVUE.com.]

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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