ATASCADERO — Junior Gonzales is looking for answers from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department.
Gonzales returned to his home-business — Central Coast One Stop Detail Shop — in suite B of 7800 El Camino Real around 1 a.m. Monday morning. His parents are long-time owners of Fashion Cleaners, which occupies the front part of the property.
Gonzales said he was unloading detailing supplies from the trunk of his car and taking them inside of the business. While returning to get a second load from the trunk, he was met by bright lights in his face and a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputy pointing a gun at him.
“I looked out, and I was thinking it was my wife,” Gonzales said. “There was a car parked right there, headlights facing the front, blinding, couldn’t really see and then I got closer and I see an individual standing to the right of the car posted with his gun out. I was like, oh great.”
Gonzales said he tried to talk to the deputy, telling him that he had a right to be on the property.
“I come out, nobody called you, you can be on your way, there is nothing happening here,” Gonzales said. “He just yells out, “Freeze, sheriff’s department.’”
The deputy continues to loudly tell him “that the trunk is open, the door is open and that they thought someone was breaking in,” Gonzales said. “Freeze, don’t move. I’m telling him, ‘I live here, man. What the hell is your problem.’ And by then, my dogs come out. They are doing their job.”
Gonzales said the dogs, pit bulls, came out and the younger of the two, Roxi, “she was barking, but not attacking. Just barking and approaching him slowly.”
As she approached the deputy, Gonzales said she always bows down with her head twisted, sits down and wags her tail. “And that is what she was doing,” he said.
According to Gonzales, the deputy tells him twice to get his dog.
“I’m hesitant to run over there. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get shot at or what,” Gonzales said. “I started to walk that and then he unloads three rounds on her. One in the face, one in the chest and one in the lower abdomen. And then I became irate.”
The dog runs toward Gonzales and then inside. Gonzales moves to follow his bleeding dog but is stopped by the deputy, who still has his gun pointed at him.
By this time, more deputies arrive and later Atascadero Police Department units. Also, about this time, Gonzales’ wife drives up and gets out of her car.
“She came out of the car like what’s going on,” Gonzales said. “And they just grabbed her, put her in cuffs and sat her down. A-town PD did. I was like, ‘There is no need to put her in cuffs. Do you have a charge on her? Are you guys even telling her why you are detaining her.’ They are telling me to calm down. I’m like, ‘Calm down, she just got here and you are putting her in cuffs. She lives here as well.’”
Eventually, deputies put away their guns and the cuffs were removed from his wife, who ran in and scooped up her bleeding dog. Gonzales insisted the deputies take the dog and wife to a veterinarian to care for the dog. And eventually, they did.
“As they took her, one of the deputies said they would take care of the bill,” Gonzales said. “I said, “That is the least you can do.’”
The dog received treatment and is expected to recover fully.
While the dog is being treated, Gonzales talks with a sheriff’s deputy.
“I made it clear to him that it was very uncalled for for the deputy to pull the gun and shoot my dog,” Gonzales said. “If that is protocol, it should be totally different. Just because the door is open? There were no windows broken, no cars broken, nothing showing that there is a break-in. Nothing, nothing.”
A day or two after the incident, Gonzales said he talked with an attorney and is prepared to file a lawsuit against the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
“I still don’t find the reason for why the gun was pulled,” Gonzales said. “I didn’t like the way they handled it. They were just unprofessional. They knew they were at fault.”
The SLO County Sheriff’s office released a very different account of the event.
According to the SLO County Sheriff’s press release, on 6-15-20, Sheriff’s Deputies were on patrol and traveling in the 7800 block of El Camino Real in Atascadero when they observed a business with the front door open and the lights off.
There was a vehicle parked in front of the business with the trunk open with a man pushing a laundry cart walking toward the vehicle. The Deputies exited their vehicle to investigate. They identified themselves as Sheriff’s Deputies when suddenly two pit bull dogs ran from the business toward the Deputies.
One of the Deputies, fearing the dog was about to attack him, fired three rounds at the animal, striking the dog. The dog was transported to a local veterinarian and fortunately survived it’s injuries, which were deemed non-life-threatening. The dog was released after treatment to the owner that day.
The Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with the owner of the animals and worked with him and the veterinarian and has offered to pay for all the vet bills related to this incident. It is always unfortunate when an animal is harmed.
The Sheriff’s Office has initiated an investigation into the circumstances of this incident. And it will be followed up with an investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Professional Standards Unit. No further information is available at this time.