RAINS COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Charges were dropped Thursday morning against a Rains County deputy who shot a dog while responding to a burglary call in April. Jarrod Dooley appeared in court where he was required to make a statement and surrender his law enforcement license as part of a plea deal to drop the animal cruelty charge against him.
Dooley said a previous incident in January, in which he had to shoot at an aggressive dog, had caused him excessive fear which affected him on the day he shot Candy, the dog, in April. He also apologized to Cole Middleton, the dog's owner. Dooley will never be able to apply for a law enforcement license in any state or he will be prosecuted for this charge. His attorney felt the shooting was justified and that Dooley never should have been indicted.
"The public outcry that resulted from this incident led some of the elected officials in this county to make rash decisions. This should never have been indicted," Pete Schulte, Dooley's attorney, said.
After the incident, the story spread quickly. A Facebook page called "Justice for Candy Middleton" was set up following the shooting and the page now has nearly 40,000 members.
Cole Middleton and the many members of that Facebook group are trying to pass "Candy's Law," which would require law enforcement officers to have proper training with dogs. Two of those Facebook members, who have never met the Middleton family before, showed up in Rains County just for support.
Angie Patterson and Deborah Forrest drove from Mabank and Dallas to show their support for the Middleton family.
"People need to be accountable. You just can't do this. You can't do this. So that's why I'm here," Forrest explained.
They are both members of the Facebook page and have shared the story around the world.
"A lot of my family is still in England," Forrest said. "They're dog lovers. This would absolutely not be tolerated in the United Kingdom. I mean, pets are like family."
Both said there was no doubt they would be at the courthouse for Dooley's hearing.
"It can happen to anyone," Patterson said. "You go home and your house has been robbed. You call the cops expecting them to go out there and do something. They arrive and they kill your pets. I mean, that could happen to anybody."
Now they're hoping for justice and for a change in the way law enforcement officers are trained to deal with dogs.
"Let's not wait until another family is hurt and devastated by their dog being shot until we initiate the training. Let's get the training passed first and foremost to ward this off from happening again," Cole Middleton, Candy's owner, said.
Since Candy's death, Cole Middleton has met with state representatives and local leaders to try to pass Candy's Law. He said several Texas police departments have already begun the training.
"If these guys have a fear they need training. If they have a fear they can't overcome, they don't need to be a police officer because they're going to encounter dogs," Middleton explained.
So with the announcement that Jarrod Dooley had to surrender his law enforcement license forever, Patterson said, "I'm happy he is not going to be a cop again. I would have liked to have seen something further happen, but I am happy with the surrender of the peace license."
It's justice for Candy, they said, they've all been hoping for.
"That's a big step for justice. It makes me sleep at night a little easier," Middleton said.
While inside the courtroom was peaceful, a man who had been present during the hearing, ran into Dooley while he was leaving. Then, outside the courthouse, that same man punched Dooley in the back. DPS was called, but no arrests were made.