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22 Jul, 2013 19:02

California cop promoted after killing pet dog

California cop promoted after killing pet dog

A California police officer involved in the shooting of a pet dog last month has been promoted to sergeant.

City officials in El Monte, California are not releasing the name of the recently promoted police officer, but confirm that it’s one of two men caught on tape last month shooting a pet German shepherd.

The initial incident occurred on June 19 as two El Monte police officers were following up on a report of a runaway teenager. After one of the cops let himself in to the fenced area outside of the home of Cathy Luu and her husband Chi Nguyen, the family’s pet pit bull approached one of the officers, prompting him to briefly play with it. Things quickly took a nasty turn, however, with surveillance camera footage recorded by the family showing that moments later their pet German shepherd began quickly pacing across the yard. Fearing he’d be attacked, one of the officers opened fire and shot the dog.

Although the police department reportedly offered at first to pay the subsequent veterinary bill, a $7,000 price-tag proved too costly and the family ultimately ended up putting their dog down, the family said.

Now as an investigation into the shooting continues, one of the two officers caught on the family’s home surveillance camera has received a promotion.

"One officer involved in this incident did receive a promotion to sergeant; however the officer was selected for and notified of the promotion on June 12, well before the incident took place," El Monte Police Chief Steven Schuster said in a written statement.

"Since this is an ongoing investigation, we could not rescind that promotion because it would have violated the officer's rights under state law," the chief said.

Schuster added that if the investigation reveals that either of the officers violated policy in handling the incident, then the department may choose to take disciplinary action.

The department has declined to name the officers involved, citing the investigation, but the San Gabriel Valley Tribune has identified them as Arlen Castillo and Kenneth Fraser. The paper noted that the El Monte Police Department’s Facebook book announced that Fraser and six others received promotions on July 1. Castillo has reportedly been reassigned to a different position, a maneuver that Chief Schuster told the Tribune was a “lateral move.”

Schuster said the investigation into the shooting could last several months.

"We have reached out to other police departments to find best practices and determine whether there is a need to change or augment our policies," Schuster told the Tribune. "We are also referencing a recent report by the (U.S. Department of Justice) Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) that deals with this issue."

Shortly after the shooting, El Monte Mayor Andrew Quintero said he was looking for a "quick and appropriate solution” with regards to the investigation.

"Our community and the Luu/Nguyen family deserve answers and closure quickly," the mayor said.

Last month’s shooting happened just days before a similar incident in Hawthorne, California in which police officers were caught on camera fatally shooting a pet Rottweiler while arresting the dog’s owner. Officers at the Hawthorne Police Department have reportedly since received death threats as a result.

These aren’t just threats of ill-will,” Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager told NBC News. “These are absolutely threats to life.”