Video shows cop shooting ‘aggressive’ pit bull as it approaches, Illinois police say

Police in rural Illinois released body camera footage Monday showing an officer shooting a pit bull, hoping to dispel rumors about the incident that were spreading online.

The officer shot the dog in Kewanee on Friday while responding to reports of “an aggressive pit bull charging at people in the roadway,” police said in a Facebook post that had been shared hundreds of times in just hours.

“Several false claims on social media were made over the weekend that children were present during the incident and the pit bull was shot as it was running away from the officer,” police said. “The video shows that these statements are false and a misrepresentation of the unfortunate incident. The body camera footage clearly shows the pit bull was aggressive and approaching the officer in the street.”

The dog ran away yelping after it was shot, but the animal was not killed, WQAD reports.

Police said the officer was responding to reports that a person was walking in the street in Kewanee when the dog tried to attack him, with the man telling the officer “that the loose pit bull had charged at him three separate times and tried to bite him while he was in the roadway.”

As the officer talks to neighbors and a dispatcher during the 2-minute-30-second video, the dog can be heard barking from across the street.

The officer tried to track down the dog’s owner to prevent it from attacking anyone, police said, but as the officer spoke to a dispatcher over the phone the animal began to cross the road and approach him.

The officer hung up, telling the dispatcher the pit bull was coming toward him.

That’s when the officer pulled out his gun, yelled at the dog to get back and ultimately shot the dog as it moved closer, video shows.

Police said the officer shot the dog once when it was about five feet away.

The pit bull ran away and couldn’t be captured, police said.

“The owner of the pit bull, Jessica Smith, was later cited for the city ordinance violation for allowing a dog to run at large,” police said, adding that she’s due in court next month.

Kewanee police said that in the last year local officers have responded to 32 dog bite complaints and 777 complaints of dogs running loose.

But many on Facebook questioned whether force was necessary.

“He was barking,” one wrote. “My little dogs are more aggressive than that on a good day.”

Another person commented that “the dog never even did any harm. I’d be pressing some kind of charges on the officer for shooting at the dog!”

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.