We have been following the seemingly endless cases of shootings of dogs around the country. The latest is in El Monte, California where the police entered a family’s front yard some nine months ago (passed “Beware of Dog” signs) and fatally shot the family’s 2-year-old German shepherd. There was no imminent crime or exigent circumstance. Police were coming to collect a photograph of the teenage son of Cathy Luu and Chi Nguyen, whom they had previously reported had run away from home (he returned shortly afterward). A video tape shows the officers, Detective Arlen Castillo and then Officer Ken Fraser, open the gate without calling into the house. Fraser actually pets the family’s pit bull on the way in. Then the German shepherd comes out barking at Castillo and Castillo shoots the dog.
El Monte Police Chief Steven Schuster (left) has now announced that “The full incident was investigated, including both officers’ actions, with no sustained policy violations found.” He simply said that “the officers felt that their safety was compromised due to the dog.” That is all it takes apparently.
The video however shows the officers ignoring the “Beware of Dog” signs. That does not seem like a smart idea and created the likelihood of a confrontation with the dog. Notably, the officers account changed after it was disclosed that there was a video tape. Police said the officers shook the gate and proceeded cautiously only to be set upon by the dog. The video shows a very different scene. Shuster shrugged off the discrepancies: “The initial statement included information that was known to the reporting officer at the time, which was prior to knowledge of video evidence. As we learned about the discrepancy, we corrected the statement to the media and public and asked for the original video file to assist in our investigation. We completed a full investigation on this matter, and determined there were no sustained violations.”
That is a remarkably forgiving standard for police misconduct. It is an alternative to the outrageous policy of Dallas Police Chief David Brown revealed a new policy that would require officers involved in a shooting to wait 72 hours before making a statement. The policy came after a scandal where a surveillance video showed one of Brown’s officers shooting a mentally ill suspect for no apparent reason. The video contradicted the officer’s testimony and undermined the charge against the victim. Brown’s solution was not greater disciplining and monitoring of officers but to impose a delay to allow officers to craft their statements.
However, in El Monte, they just treat such contradictions with the officers’ account as a “discrepancy” and change the police account. Fraser was later promoted.
Kudos: Michael Blott