Prep the tissues, folks, because you're going to need them. A Texas man is in deep mourning today after watching his dog, Cisco, be shot right in front of him in their yard. And all Michael Paxton can get out of the Austin Police Department is a lukewarm apology as they defend their officer.
I have a dog. I love my dog. The way I see it, "sorry" doesn't cut it just because Cisco had four legs and fur.
The story goes that the officer wasn't even at the right house when he showed up in Paxton's yard with his gun drawn. He had the address for a domestic disturbance call wrong. But he pulled out a gun and started yelling at Paxton, who had left Cisco in the backyard (where they'd been playing Frisbee!) while he went to get something out of his truck in his driveway. Not surprisingly, the 40-year-old innocent man was upset. And knowing loyal pets like I do, I'm not surprised his 50-pound blue heeler came bounding out from the backyard to find out why his daddy sounded so distraught.
I am surprised to hear a police department is backing a cop who used deadly force on the animal in his own driveway instead of opting for a Taser or pepper spray, both of which Paxton says he had in his hands. They're claiming the dog was "threatening" and going to attack.
Fair enough, I guess. Paxton says he was screaming that his dog was friendly and wouldn't bite, but we all know when we see teeth, you just don't KNOW what a dog is going to do. I get that the cop was scared. But that's why our cops are armed with non-lethal defense mechanisms. They have means to defend themselves if they feel scared. And they're supposed to be quick on their feet and able to pull them out when necessary.
The fact that this officer went straight for the gun troubles me. He should have taken a second to think about the fact that he was on a person's property, threatening them with a weapon, and the dog was following its natural instincts. He should have thought about what the man was saying. It shows a cop who is trigger-happy. It shows a cop who can't use good judgment, a cop who obviously needs to go back for some new "in the field" training.
Just imagine that Cisco wasn't a dog but a child. Different? Yeah. But this cop obviously showed he doesn't think before he shoots. So who's to say he would have put down the gun if the "attacker" was human?
The Justice for Cisco page that's cropped up on Twitter with thousands of fans is has been careful to ask that people not turn this into a vigilante cop hunt. But their demand for change is valid. In a world where cops go straight for their guns when they feel threatened by a dog, we have to ask if anyone is safe. A dog isn't "just" a dog. It's a living creature. Cisco could have been anyone.
What do you think should happen with this officer?
Image via Justice for Cisco