EL MONTE - One of two police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a pet German shepherd in an El Monte family's fenced-in front yard last month has been promoted as police continue conducting an internal investigation into the incident.
Though not officially identified by the department, Officers Arlen Castillo and Kenneth Fraser are pictured in a surveillance video provided by the homeowners that captured portions of the June 19 incident in the 4700 block of Maxson Road.
Through its Facebook page, the El Monte Police Department has confirmed that Fraser was promoted July 1 to the rank of sergeant. Six other officers were also promoted.
"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.
Additionally, the chief confirmed the other officer involved in the shooting had been reassigned to a different division within the department but had not been promoted.
"This was a lateral move," Schuster said, adding that the decision had also been made prior to the June 19 shooting.
Residents Cathy Luu and her husband Chi Nguyen expressed outrage over the killing of their family pet, pointing out that the officers seemingly ignored "beware of dog" signs posted on their gate when they entered the yard to follow up on a report that the couple's son had run away.
And the initial version of events provided by the Police Department was contradicted by the surveillance video.
Shortly after the shooting, Capt. Dan Buehler said the reports stated that the officers shook the fence and took other precautions to check for dogs on the property before entering the yard.
But the video depicts the officers casually entering the yard without taking such precautions, with now-sergeant Fraser opening the gate and entering the yard, followed by Castillo. It was Castillo who ultimately ended up shooting the dog as it charged toward her as she stood on Luu and Nguyen's front porch.
City officials have since sat down to talk with the distraught family and extended an offer to help them obtain a new dog.
Both police officers remain on-duty as the internal investigation continues, according to department spokeswoman Valerie Martinez.
"I have asked that this investigation be expedited and I anticipate a finding in one to two months, Schuster said. Normal internal investigation take three to four months, he added.
"If the investigation reveals either officer violated policy in handling the (June 19) incident, we, at that time, may choose to take disciplinary action," the chief said.
Schuster said he has assigned staff members to review the department's policy regarding officer encounters with dogs.
"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 said. "We are also referencing a recent report by the (U.S. Department of Justice) Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) that deals with this issue."