RAINS COUNTY — A grand jury has indicted a former Rains County deputy on an animal cruelty charge over the controversial shooting of a family’s dog last month.
Jerrod Dooley, 32, has been charged with a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years behind bars. Dooley was fired last month within days of the shooting that sparked a national furor after the dog’s owner went public with his story.
"This is clearly a political knee jerk reaction by the DA in Rains County and there’s no chance that this case will stand up in court," said Pete Schulte, Dooleys' attorney. "It’s a legal impossibility because he was acting within the scope of his employment as a public servant. We look forward to our day in court.”
He added that he was told that he would be provided an opportunity to present information to the grand jury and he’s disappointed that didn't occur.
"They indicted him within two weeks," Schulte said. "That never happens."
In a tearful interview last month, Dooley tried to explain why he shot the 2-year-old blue heeler named Candy.
"I tried, but I didn't think I could get away from her," he said haltingly. “I told her to 'get back,' she wouldn't get back ... and I fired two shots."
Dooley described himself as a dog lover and said he previously worked for the SPCA.
On April 19, Dooley responded to a burglary call at a farm in Point, Texas. Middleton had called the sheriff’s department several hours earlier to report a break-in.
Dooley has said that when he first arrived, the dog wasn't acting aggressive, but that when he got out of his squad car the dog came at him and he had to shoot her.
Dash cam video shows Candy barking and then jumping out of the truck out of the camera’s view. The actual shooting isn't seen on the video.
The video shows Dooley telling Middleton that he shot the dog.
"Partner, you're about to be upset, but your dog charged me and I had to shoot it," he said.
"My God, no! No! No! No!" Middleton screams.
"Calm down! Calm down!" Dooley tells him.
Middleton has said that the bullet struck her in the back of her head and came out one of the dog’s eyes. He also said the dog wouldn't have survived so to relieve her suffering, he put her head in a bucket of water.
"I did the unimaginable, but it had to be done so she could go home," he told News 8 last month.
Candy’s death sparked a national furor after Middleton took to social media to tell his story and released a video. The video shows other officers mugging for the camera shortly after the shooting.
Dooley, who's a single father, said he and his son have received death threats.
“I can’t go to the grocery store without being recognized, pointed at, laughed at," Dooley said. "Can't pay my water bill without hearing my name, saying 'There's the sorry cop that killed the dog.'"
Dooley said during the interview that he wishes things had turned out differently.
“I hear her yelp every night before I go to bed,” he said. There's probably not a minute that goes by that I don't think about it. I'd give anything to walk up to him, hug his neck, try to make his pain go away. I know I'll never get that chance."