Opinion » Shredder

Keystone cops?


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Nothing to see here. Move along. It's just a dog shot by a police officer through its scrotum in a populated residential area in broad daylight during an erroneous police call. No big deal.


Four months ago, San Luis Obispo Police Department Officer Joshua Walsh responded to a possible burglary call that was really a rental unit occupant fixing her own broken window. He pulled out his service weapon and fired three shots at Bubbers, a 7-year-old pit bull/boxer mix who Walsh claimed "charged" at him, which the dogs owners—Nick Regalia and Riley Manford—dispute.

Walsh's actions are currently "under investigation," and he's on "administrative reassignment." His body camera recorded the event. He says he felt threatened and had to shoot the dog. Bubs' owners contend the shooting was wholly unnecessary (read all about it in this week's cover story, "Justice for Bubs"). Regalia and Manford have called for SLOPD Chief Deanna Cantrell to release said body cam footage.

Nope, she says. They're not required by law to release it, so they won't. She did, however, claim in an interview with New Times that the video shows the dog "very aggressively coming at" Walsh, but if that's the case, doesn't that mean it exonerates Walsh of misconduct and proves Regalia and Manford's version of the shooting is mischaracterized? Why is Walsh still under investigation if the video proves he did nothing wrong, and why not let the public see the video in the spirit of transparency?

"It's hard to watch," Cantrell told New Times, "and contradicts what [Regalia and Manford] have been saying publicly."

Hard to watch? Harder than watching Battlefield Earth? Howard the Duck? Ishtar? I think we can handle it, Deanna! We're Americans. We watch terrible crap all the time, like Hoarders: Buried Alive. And you contend it proves Regalia and Manford wrong, so freaking show it!

The whole event sure gives me new respect for mail carriers, who encounter barking dogs every day and somehow refrain from shooting them, but as Cantrell said, her officers (and other police officers, for that matter) don't get training on how to handle dogs, so they just—you know—shoot 'em through the balls or whatever.

"It's just shocking that we don't" get training, she admitted, but hey, Deanna, you're the chief! Have you no control of the kind of training your officers get? Instead of being "shocked" that your department didn't have training, shouldn't you have required some?

Since the shooting, Cantrell had her officers watch a two-hour postal service video on dog encounters and ordered more "dog snares" so officers could use less lethal means like the Taser, mace, and baton they already carry that Walsh bypassed in favor of shooting Bubs in his testicles and back.

This whole "thin blue line" business needs to stop, which is why Senate Bill 1421 and Assembly Bill 748 were designed to increase police transparency. The spirit of the new laws is clear but that hasn't stopped the police and their apologists from exploiting loopholes to protect themselves. Because Bubbers was a canine and not human, and laws only require disclosure in shootings involving humans, the SLOPD reiterates that it's not required to, nor will it, release the video.

When Regalia demanded the video's release during the Dec. 3 City Council meeting, SLO City Attorney Christine Dietrick said, "For a variety of reasons, including privacy for the people who are inadvertently captured in some of the most difficult moments of their lives, we do not routinely waive those exemptions."

Yes, but in this case, the people "in some of the most difficult moments of their lives" are the ones calling for the video to be released! Cantrell says the video exonerates Walsh and her department, so WTF?

"The last thing we want is a bad police officer working for us. It means absolutely everything. Without the trust of the public, we have nothing," Cantrell, who accidently left her loaded semi-automatic handgun in an El Pollo Loco fast food restaurant bathroom in July, told New Times.

Roger that, chief.

Did I mention that Cantrell refused to let a New Times photographer take her photo for this week's cover story or allow our reporter to record their interview? Transparency sounds like a fantasy to me.

Speaking of fantasy: Did you know that's where the SLO County Board of Supervisors is living? Well, that's according to Child Development Resource Center (CDCR) board President Michael Passarelli, who said if the board thought that it would be easy for the center to change locations, they should "buy a ticket to Disneyland because you're living in a fantasy land."

Ooh wee! Passarelli, don't hold back!

The CDCR is hanging in the balance because the county wants to build a health care campus that includes a Probation Center where the CDCR is located. Working with at-risk kids ages 2 to 6 years old, the nonprofit may be the only agency standing between these kids and their own future visit to probation. Luckily, supervisors feel for the CDCR's plight with 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold saying she couldn't vote for the campus if the nonprofit has to go somewhere else.

At least if we don't trust the police, we can trust our elected officials? No, that can't be right ... Δ

The Shredder is confused. Send ideas and comments to [email protected].



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