12/30 Update: The K9 that was punched by a Vacaville police officer during training has been placed in the care of a third-party handler, officials confirm.
On Wednesday, the Vacaville Police Department said the dog and the officer have been separated. No other information about the incident has been released.
VACAVILLE (CBS13) — A Vacaville police officer was caught on camera punching his four-legged partner at a training facility.
Roberto Palomino recorded the incident on his phone. He says he was too afraid to confront the police officer.
“I can still hear the dog crying,” Palomino said. “There was an officer beating a dog really bad. It was closed-fist punching in the face to a dog. He punched the dog several times before I was able to get it on camera.”
The Vacaville Police Department confirmed that it one of their officers in Palomino’s video, but says the video was out of context.
“The officer was conducting training with the K9,” says Matt Lydon, a captain with the Vacaville Police Department.
Lydon says the dog was training to sniff out narcotics for the department.
“The dog performed very well in the training scenario and located the narcotics,” Lydon said.
The K9 was rewarded with a toy, but when the officer tried to take it back, Lydon said the dog got upset.
“The K9 lunged in an attempt to bite the handler and that’s when swift action needs to take place to let the dog know the handler is in charge. That is a position of dominance that you see in the video when the officer straddles the dog,” Lydon said.
CBS13 asked him if punching the dog in the face is a part of the reprimand process.
“There are certain scenarios where strikes to the dog can be appropriate. We want to know the mindset what the officer was experiencing in that moment and we’ll go from there,” Lydon said.
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“I didn’t know that was kind of training. If it is, I don’t think it’s right. That image is going to be hard to erase,” Palomino said.
The officer and the K9 are still in the training process and not yet out on patrol. CBS13 asked the Vacaville Police Department if there would be repercussions for the officer. They say it’s too early to make those determinations.