A police officer who shot a dog in front of a 6-year-old girl Friday afternoon in southwest suburban Hometown was terminated from the force Monday.
Police say dispatchers received a call from the owners that Apollo, their 16-month-old German Shepherd/pit bull mix, was loose. The officer said he found the dog and followed it back to its home when it "growled and approached him in a threatening manner," prompting him to pull out his gun and shoot the animal.
Hometown Police Chief Charles Forsyth posted Monday on the department's Facebook page that despite the fact that "the officer may have been justified under the Illinois Use of Force statute governing deadly force," the decision was made to terminate him.
He also said all of the reports and witness statements will be sent to the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit to be reviewed.
The dog's owner, Nicole Echlin, told NBC 5 Saturday that the family had just returned the dog to their lawn when police arrived.
“We were in the lawn and the cop already had his gun out,” Echlin said. “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.”
Echlin said her young daughter “started screaming” after the shooting.
Witnesses also told NBC 5 that the dog didn't appear to be threatening the officers.
“The dog wasn’t doing anything. I didn’t see it doing anything, it wasn’t barking,” said neighbor Nicco Torres who witnessed the incident through his window. "Then I saw a cop shoot the dog, the dog fell to ground on the lawn."
The family set up a Facebook page titled “Justice for Apollo,” and had planned a demonstration to protest the shooting.
The family praised the decision to fire the officer on the Facebook page and called Forsyth "an example of a true leader of his town" who "cares about the community and families."
The police department did not release the name of the fired officer.