Justice for Cisco

Michael Paxton's backyard Frisbee session with his 7-year-old Blue Heeler ended tragically when a police officer -- while answering a 911 call at the wrong address -- fatally shot the barking dog when he felt threatened by it.  

Paxton, 40, subsequently started a "Justice for Cisco" Facebook page after the incident on Saturday afternoon in Austin, Texas. Now, thanks to the power of the Internet to mobilize public opinion, the case is getting local and international media attention -- and putting pressure on the Austin Police Department to discipline the officer involved in the shooting, Thomas Griffin.  

Paxton's Facebook page, which he started Sunday, had gotten more than 33,000 "likes" as of early Tuesday morning. It has drawn sympathetic messages from outraged dog lovers in the U.S. and overseas.  

Austin's police answered questions during a news conference on Monday attended by nearly 20 media outlets, and the incident has gotten coverage from media outlets from New York to London.   According to the police account of the incident, Griffin was responding to 911 call involving a domestic dispute at Paxton's address. However, the couple who were reportedly drunk and quarreling, Jesus Rivera and Maria Hernandez, actually lived next door.  

In his "Justice for Cisco" Facebook page, Paxton said he went from his backyard to get something from his truck -- only to encounter Officer Griffin who "drew his gun on me in my driveway."   He explained, "While I was at gunpoint my dog came from my backyard barking at the officer. I yelled for the officer to not shoot my dog, that he will not bite, but the officer immediately shot and killed my dog right in front of me. I was unable to stop or restrain Cisco because I was being held at gunpoint." (The officer's dash-cam video picked up some of the audio from the scene, and it may be heard in a news report about the shooting from a local news channel.)  

A police spokesman, Sgt. David Daniels, said during Monday's news conference that Griffin drew his weapon and said, "Show me your hands."   "As soon as he did that, a dog charged him quickly and aggressively." Griffin was  "basically in retreat when he fired," he added, and was upset over the incident.  

Although an internal review is underway, Daniels said, "We are not going to second guess our officer."   Paxton said Cisco would not have bitten the officer even though he was barking. "He shows that behavior, then he sniffs you and wants to be scratched." On his Facebook page, Paxton asked readers to click the page's "like" button in order to "spread the word about this senseless tragedy and hopefully find justice for Cisco." The Facebook pages also includes an online petition asking that Officer Griffin be reprimanded for killing Cisco.  

No matter what you think of Paxton's effort to obtain justice for his beloved dog, his Facebook campaign is part of a much larger story - yet another example of how the Internet has enabled ordinary people to demand accountability from public officials.