An Illinois Police Department fired one of their officers on Monday for shooting a family dog in front of their 6 year old daughter. The fatal shooting took place last Friday in Hometown, IL after a family dog got loose from it's yard, and police were called to help find and get the frightened dog home. The dog was shot in the family's own yard, just steps away from it's own front door.
The family was delighted when one year old Apollo, a shepherd mix returned home. The excitement of having their family dog returned was quickly shattered however, when their dog was then shot by a police officer who allegedly arrived to help get the young dog home safely. Even though the dog was in it's own yard at this point, Hometown Police Officer Robert Norris stated that he heard the dog growl at him threateningly and that it began to approach him, so he drew his gun and shot the dog. Apollo died Saturday in veterinary care, from the gunshot inflicted by Norris.
The family members disagree with the statements Norris made about the dog's behavior after returning home. The family all claim that Apollo did not become defensive until after the officer drew his gun out of it's holster. One of the dog's owners, Nicole Echlin, told NBC, "We were out in the lawn and the cop already had his gun out," And further added, "I tried to call him in the house and he just stood there staring and I guess he showed his teeth and the cop just shot him, right in front of me and my 6-year-old daughter."
Aside from the family, another witness, Nicco Torres also stated that the dog did not provoke the officer. According to the Chicago Tribune, “...police knew the dog had gotten out a few times prior to Friday, but there was no record of him harming anyone. On Friday, the dog stood his ground when the officer pointed the gun at him, Echlin said.”
The rising number of dog fatalities relating to police officer shootings has caused much of the dog loving community to be up in arms. And incidents where police are using deadly force against dogs is under serious scrutiny by many as it seems completely excessive to most people. Hopefully suggestions of alternative measures for police dealing with dogs, and additional officer training will be heard and implemented.
The family has created a page on facebook, Justice for Apollo with hope of getting justice for the death of their dog.