Feb. 3-Nearly 50 people from across the country urged the Lodi City Council on Wednesday to fire three officers involved in the death of a family's dog.
"Every one of those individuals listed are a danger to society and we demand their firing now," Jose Samaniego said during the public comment portion of Wednesday's meeting. "We will not tolerate a lengthy criminal investigation. Several organizations plan to protest in person and demand their firing as soon as the next few days."
Last week, a 2-year-old Husky named Enzo escaped from his family's home on Sandpiper Circle and ended up on nearby Finch Run when a Lodi Police Department officer used a taser to detain him.
Bystanders captured Enzo's detainment on video, which depicts him being tased twice and then dragged to the animal services vehicle. He died as he was tased.
The police department said Enzo was being aggressive, chasing a family into their home and attacking children playing in the area.
Several witnesses have disputed those claims, stating the dog was not aggressive, and that the officers involved were informed he was not vicious several times before his death.
Lodi Police Chief Sierra Brucia told the city council on Wednesday that an internal investigation was immediately opened, and the incident is something his department does not take lightly.
Brucia said the investigation was completed earlier in the day, and was forwarded to the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office for review to determine if charges will be filed.
He added the complaint filed last week against the officers is also under review, and any violations or criminal charges found would be handled appropriately.
"The department will be reviewing all of our taser uses, animal services policies, and any violation of those will be handled appropriately," he said. "We've also reached out to an outside vendor to come in and do some additional training for our department as it relates to animals at large and service priorities."
Prior to taking calls from the public, Mayor Mikey Hothi expressed his condolences to Enzo's family, and added that the investigation and review process would take time to play out.
"I think most of us here are pet owners, and I view my pet as a member of the family," he said. "This is a sad situation. But also, mainly (I ask) that we leave the officers and their families alone in this. There are lots of threats online and it's a sad situation there. I'm asking we give them some space as well."
Stockton resident Jacqueline Morrison took issue with Hothi's description of the incident, and said he should have spoken about the topic almost immediately after it happened.
"The fact that you called it a sad situation when you see a video of an officer tasing and murdering a dog that just stands in front of them is unbelievable to me," she said. "If this person can go ahead and do this to an animal that is defenseless and not attacking, I can only imagine what they can do to a defenseless person they can't control."
The video filmed by three witnesses has made the rounds on social media, and depicts Enzo standing in front of a Lodi officer for several seconds.
The officer slowly approaches Enzo with taser in hand, and the dog falls to the ground once the tool is deployed. Enzo appears to try to get up again as an animal services officer places the catchpole around the dog's neck.
The officers deploys the taser a second time, and Enzo is dragged out of view.
Rebecca Somers is not a Lodi resident, but was one of thousands of people across the country who viewed video of the incident online.
"Anybody with eyes who watched the video saw the dog already lying down in a position that was defenseless while his paws were bleeding," she said. "If those are the types of people you employ, regardless of an investigation, they should be fired. If that's what they do to a defenseless animal because they couldn't catch it the first time, I can't imagine what they'd do to a human being or another animal."
Some callers demanded the dispatch logs of the incident be released, as well as the identity of the Sandpiper Circle resident who reported Enzo as being aggressive.
Others said that if Enzo was being aggressive, the manner in which he was detained was unacceptable.
"That was a terrified dog trying to get away after being chased by strangers and being tased," Denisse Espejo said. "Supposedly he was being aggressive, but looking at that dog's body language, I can say that was not aggression. It was fear. That was an animal in flight mode."
The district attorney's office on Wednesday said it was aware of the Lodi Police Department's internal investigation, but had not yet received the report.
Once received, a thorough investigation of all parties involved would be conducted. It is unknown how long the investigation will take.
Because callers spoke during public comment, city council members were not allowed to respond.
On Thursday, Hothi said he and fellow council members, as well as city staff, have received a barrage of complaint emails.
He said he's even received hateful, sometimes racist comments on pictures he posts to his personal social media accounts, mostly from people who live in other parts of the country.
Hothi said if it's bad for him, he can't imagine the kinds of messages the three officers involved must be receiving in their email inboxes or on social media.
"Nobody went to work that day wanting this to happen to Enzo," he said. "The main thing I want everyone to know is to give this community time to grieve. I know our officers have great remorse for what happened, and they've worked their hardest their whole careers to protect this community. It's a sad situation all around, but our chief, the district attorney, and everyone involved are going to investigate this incident thoroughly."
A "Justice For Enzo" march will be held Saturday at noon at the Lodi Arch in Downtown. Organizers plan to march from City Hall to the Lodi Police Department and demand the three officers involved are terminated.
Earlier this week, Enzo's owner Aline Galeno created a GoFundMe to raise $25,000 for an attorney.
"We can't afford a lawyer and we are simply asking for your support to get justice for Enzo and to bring light to the horrible acts of these police officers involved," Galeno said in her post. "My goal is for these officers to be held accountable for their actions, and hopefully to get LPD to straighten out their law enforcement and do better."
As of noon Thursday, some $23,423 had been raised. To view the page, visit www.tinyurl.com/EnzoAttorney.