By Jane Park
St. Louis, MI (WEYI/CNN) - A police officer's use of lethal force against a dog is fueling outrage in one Michigan community.
The officer says the dog attacked him, but witnesses tell another story.
A makeshift sign on the Goetzingers' front yard has put police in the hot seat, alleging one of its officers killed the family's golden retriever, Scout.
Neighbors say they're not buying the officer's statement he shot in self defense.
It happened Sunday when Scout found his way out of the backyard unleashed, which is against city law.
Witnesses say Officer Matt Vanhall pursued Scout and eventually hot him just feet from the Goetzingers' home.
Lori Walmsley watched it unfold from across the street.
"It was as if the dog didn't go down fast enough. And he just kept shooting it over and over, until it finally tried to crawl back through its gate," said Walmsley.
Goetzinger was inside watching football at the time and ran out when he heard the shots.
"I kept saying, why did you shoot my dog? Why did you shoot my dog? And he said, 'He was coming at me,'" said Goetzinger.
Officer Vanhall states in a police report Scout ran at him, bearing his teeth and tried to bite his leg.
The police chief has told Goetzinger his officer was justified in firing his gun, but Walmsley observed otherwise.
"There was no biting, no kicking, no struggle," said Walmsley.
News spreads quickly in this small community and dozens of Goetzinger's neighbors are questioning the lethal force the officer used.
"The issue isn't that Scout was loose, the issue was that Scout was shot numerous times on his own property," said neighbor Jen Lovejoy.
Goetzinger says Scout was never aggressive toward strangers and finds it hard to believe his dog threatened the cop.
"He'll come up to them and bounce around, and he was a happy-go-lucky dog," said Goetzinger.
The Gratiot County prosecutor is reviewing the incident, but it's the officer's word against witness statement.