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Owner of dog killed by cop happy he got fired

Apollo who belonged Echlins Hometown was shot killed by Hometown police officer.  |  Supplied pho

Apollo, who belonged to the Echlins, of Hometown, was shot and killed by a Hometown police officer. | Supplied photo

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Updated: July 29, 2014 11:12PM

Nicole Echlin, the owner of a dog shot to death by a Hometown Police officer, says “we got justice” because the officer has been fired.

And she’s reconsidering the protest rally that’s planned for Sunday outside the police station because she has hired a lawyer for a possible lawsuit.

The part-time officer, who has not been named, was fired Monday, after shooting the 16-month-old German shepherd/pit bull mix Friday afternoon in the front yard of Echlin’s home in the 8700 block of Beck Place, according to Police Chief Charles Forsyth. The dog died Saturday.

Police said in a news release that they got a call from the dog’s owner, asking that police help find the dog, which officers soon located and followed as it ran back home.

That’s when things took a bad turn.

Forsyth says in the release that an officer was trying to coax the dog back into the house, when the dog began growling and approached him in a threatening manner. The officer drew his service weapon and fired one shot, striking the dog, the chief says.

“Although the officer may have been justified under [Illinois law] . . . to use deadly force, I have made the decision to terminate that officer’s employment with the Hometown Police Department. In addition, all reports and witness statements will be forwarded to the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit,” Forsyth said.

That’s not what exactly what happened, Echols said at her home Tuesday afternoon. She said she never envisioned her dog being killed, especially when it was about 20 feet from the front door when shot.

Echols, 27, said the dog, named Apollo, got loose about 2 p.m., she called police and three officers pulled up.

“That’s when the dog started running back,” she said. “We were on the front porch, and I was calling ‘Apollo, come here.’ One officer pulled his gun out and was pointing it at the dog. It scared us. The dog turned around and stood there staring at the cop.

“He is on our lawn, protecting us, and he didn’t pay attention to my calling him. He was focused on the cop with the gun pointed at him. He didn’t bark. He did show his teeth. And then the cop shot him just like that,” Echlin said.

She said her 6-year-old daughter fell to the ground, started screaming and had to be taken inside the house to calm down.

“I asked the cop why he had to shoot the dog in front of my daughter,” Echlin said, “and he said something along the lines like ‘it had to be done’ and walked away like it was nothing. A couple minutes later, animal control took the dog to the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge.”

Surgery was not possible “because the dog was not stable enough” to be given anesthesia, Animal Welfare League President Linda Estrada said Tuesday. Apollo died about 9 a.m. Saturday, Echlin said.

“But they did fire the cop who shot him,” she said, “so we’re happy about that. We think we got justice because the cop was fired. Hopefully, he doesn’t get another job around here any time soon.”

Apollo “was a good dog,” one of those dogs who weighed about 50 pounds “but thought he was a lap dog. He’d jump up and lick your face to death. He was very loving,” Echlin said.

She has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Friends started a Facebook page, Justice for Apollo, which had about 6,000 “likes” in the first day and 11,873 as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“A lady driving by stopped when she saw it happen and started screaming,” Echlin said. “Some guy I don’t know came here. He said he heard what happened and was sorry for our loss. He gave Alexis a stuffed animal and a book. It was nice. People are very generous.”

She said her daughter is doing “OK, but doesn’t like to hear about” her dog being killed.

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