Vacaville officer caught on video beating K-9 was 'correcting' dog

Video recorded by a citizen shows a Vacaville police officer straddling his K-9 on the ground and punching the dog.

"I was wondering myself, what the dog could have done to deserve that kind of punishment?" asked Roberto Palomino, who took the video.

Palomino, a floor installer, was at his warehouse when he heard a dog in distress on Monday afternoon. 

"I started hearing a dog crying, kind of like in pain," Palomino told KTVU on Tuesday, mimicking the noises he heard.

He looked outside and saw the officer with his dog in a parking lot near a Vacaville fire station.

"That's when I saw the officer constantly beating the dog, over and over. I saw at least 10 punches to the dog," Palomino said.

He says that's when he took out his phone, "recording what I was watching because I couldn't believe what I was watching."

He said the officer seemed to be looking for anyone who may have been watching him.

"As soon as he saw me, he stopped," Palomino said.

Palomino said he didn't confront the officer because he wasn't sure how the officer would react.

"I was afraid (for) my life," Palomino said.

But he said he wanted to speak out now.

"I hope he doesn't get to treat the dog like that anymore. I hope he doesn't get to treat people like that either," Palomino said.

Vacaville police Capt. Matt Lydon, acknowledged Tuesday that the video "can be very alarming to a lay person" who is not attuned to the kind of training and relationship between a K-9 officer and the dog.

Lydon said the officer, a five-year department veteran whom he would not identify, is training to become a K-9 handler. His dog, a shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix, had just found so-called drugs as part of a training exercise but wouldn't give up a toy he got as a reward. The officer did get the toy back.

"This angered the dog, and the dog reacted to this," Lydon said. "The dog lunged at the handler and attempted to bite the handler."

He said what the officer did was to train the dog that it's response wasn't OK.

"It's important in K-9 training that the handler take swift action to correct the dog's behavior," Lydon said.

Palomino says he's not so sure.

"I feel very sorry for the dog, I'm not going to lie to you," Palomino said. "I feel very sorry (for) the dog, I don't think nobody can be trained, even if it was that, like that. That was way too much abuse."

Lydon said the department had been unaware that there were other punches as alleged before the video began. He said officials will be investigating to see whether the officer's actions were appropriate.

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