CIVIC CENTER -- In a letter to the Leader, the Burbank Police
Officer's Assn. has defended the actions of an officer, who allegedly
shot a local family's pet dog, before a Burbank Police Department
internal review panel has looked into the incident to see if it was
within department policy.
The association's stance comes on the heels of Burbank Police Officer
Anthony Valento's alleged shooting of Whoopie, a black Labrador
retriever, on the evening of July 15 when Valento was responding to a
report of a domestic disturbance in the 2700 block of Wyoming Avenue.
The dog, which had a tooth knocked out and suffered a shattered leg
bone, is recovering.
In an Aug. 7 letter to the Leader, association President Darin Ryburn
wrote, "The animal was shot only after it presented a clear threat to the
officer's safety and his primary responsibility to respond to the
possible domestic violence incident at that location."
Burbank Police Det. Frank Turner, vice president of the association,
said in a telephone interview Wednesday, "There is evidence to support
our officer's position. We will back our officer until we hear
Angela Gualtiere, one of Whoopie's owners, said she is not surprised
at the association's stance.
"You're looking at a fraternity [of officers] that are basically
backing each other up," she said.
A review board has yet to look into the matter.
On Aug. 16, a four-member group of officers, including a captain and
at least one officer of Valento's rank, will examine the alleged shooting
in an internal hearing to see if it was within the bounds of the police
department's policy. The panel will talk to Valento, 30, who is on duty
at the department.
"It's an educational process for us," said Burbank Police Capt. Gordon
A. Bowers, who oversees the department's Special Operations Unit, and who
will lead the panel and write a report on its findings.
But Bowers stressed the conclusions would remain internal.
"This is not part of a criminal investigation," he said, adding that
any disciplinary action or change in policy on the discharging of a
firearm would be determined by Burbank Police Chief Thomas Hoefel.