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Veteran's service dog killed by New Orleans police officer; incident under investigation

New Orleans police originally claimed Hilo, a service dog belonging to disabled military veteran Clayton Crawford, bit the officer who shot it — but that statement was later retracted.

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By KATELYN UMHOLTZ | The Times-Picayune | Published: January 10, 2020

NEW ORLEANS (Tribune News Service) — The case of a New Orleans police officer who shot a military veteran's service dog near the city's Fair Grounds on Jan. 2 is under investigation as a use-of-force incident.

The New Orleans Police Department originally reported that the dog bit the officer before he shot her last Thursday. That led the dog's owner, Clayton Crawford, to come to her defense.

"My dog didn't attack the officer," Crawford said. "She barked at him and rushed at him — that's it."

Crawford said he then watched as the officer pulled a weapon on his "best friend."

NOPD officials emailed The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate a statement that said the initial report of the dog biting the officer was premature on their part.

The officer who shot the dog never told investigators he was bitten by the animal, the NOPD said. For Crawford, that made sense — his dog had never bitten another animal or person in her life, he said.

She was, however, his service animal that the disabled military veteran used for his case of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"That dog was trained to help me, and now I've lost her forever," Crawford said.

He has yet to hear back from the NOPD on the justification behind his dog's killing, and he can't even bury his dog until police return it. The department said the investigation is being handled by the Public Integrity Bureau's Force Investigation Team.

The department's emailed statement said the officer contacted Crawford to express his remorse for the dog's death.

"Officers with the NOPD never want to resort to using force," the statement said. "Unfortunately, in this instance, the involved officer felt it was unavoidable."

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