Officer Zachary St. John of the Tehachapi Police Department has been placed on administrative leave after shooting a family's dog in the 400 block of East “F” Street, according to Chief Jeff Kermode.
Police say that St. John was responding to a complaint of a trailer illegally parked when the incident — which remains under investigation — occurred.
According to Chief Kermode, the officer appeared at the residence around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15. No one answered the door when the officer knocked repeatedly, Kermode said, but St. John could hear a dog barking from inside.
Police say when St. John was retreating back to his car to write up a warning, a man answered the door.
At that point, Kermode said, a dog followed the owner outside and sprinted towards the officer. He fired two rounds, one which struck the Labrador-terrier mix in its left side, the Chief said.
Scott Black, the pet's owner, said his dog was not sprinting towards the officer, and that he believes he fired at least three or four rounds.
The Kern County Animal Services Department picked up the dog and took it to a veterinary hospital, where it is currently recovering.
Under the law, Kermode said, an officer may use deadly force to stop an animal if it poses an imminent threat.
“The first thing is to try and retreat and get out of the situation, if possible,” he said.
However, the police department is investigating whether the officer had time to react without having to use his gun, the Chief said.
“That's what we're reviewing,” Kermode said.
More information will be published as it becomes available.