A south suburban police officer has been fired after the shooting death of a family dog that has outraged a small community. Witnesses say an officer from the Hometown Police Department shot and killed the dog in front of its owners.
On Monday, Eyewitness News spoke with the family who lost their pet.
Alexis Gamino loves animals, but is especially fond of her dog, Apollo, a 14-month old German shepherd-pit bull mix.
"He made me laugh a lot," said Alexis, 6.
On Friday, Apollo was shot and killed by a Hometown police officer in the front yard of the dog owner’s home, and she says her daughter Alexis saw it all.
"My quick reaction was to grab her and run inside because she fell to the floor and started screaming," said Nicole Echlina, Apollo’s owner.
Echlin says Apollo had run out of the front door. Hometown police had been alerted, and encountered the dog as he returned to the front yard. Echlin says she tried coaxing Apollo back in the house, but he turned and bared his teeth at one of the officers. According to police, that’s when the officer withdrew his weapon and fired one shot, striking the dog.
Echlin says she questioned the use of deadly force- especially in front of her daughter- but she says the officer showed no remorse.
"He just said it had to be done. He walked up to me, told me that and walked away," said Echlin.
Echlin says Apollo was a loving dog, and a great companion to Alexis, who she says is handling the situation well.
"I told her the dog was going to be OK, but she’s a smart 6-year-old so she knows what’s going on," said Echlin.
The shooting generated anger in the community, with several people starting a Facebook page called “Justice for Apollo.” after investigating the incident, the hometown police chief took action and terminated the officer, a 15-year veteran of the department.
"This has been really an emotional roller coaster for the community, naturally for the victim’s family, my heart goes out to them, and it’s been an emotional roller coaster for my police department," said Chief Charles Forsyth, Hometown Police Department.
The chief said all reports and witness statements will be forwarded to the Illinois State Police public integrity unit.
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