San Luis Obispo settles with couple after officer shoots their dog

Riley Manford and Bubbers

By KAREN VELIE

The city of San Luis Obispo agreed to settle a claim from a couple who alleged a police officer shot and killed their dog without provocation. The city agreed to pay a $70,000 settlement while refusing to publicly release video footage of the shooting.

In Sept. 2019, officer Josh Walsh shot and killed “Bubbas” while responding to a possible burglary.

Even though Walsh and another officer quickly determined the burglary report was inaccurate, just a resident fixing a broken window, Walsh appeared frightened of the resident’s dog.

Walsh ordered Riley Manford to control her “fucking dog,” Manford said. “I told him he was a friendly dog and asked him to put his gun down so I could get Bubbers.”

Before Manford could reach her dog, Walsh fired three shots at Bubbers. Two shots struck the dog and one bounced off the concrete.

While he was removed from duty during an investigation into the shooting, he was later placed back on the street.

The SLO Police Department later reported that the dog had charged Officer Walsh, who drew his weapon and fired to protect himself. However, the video, which Attorney James McKiernan was permitted to view, appears to show the dog approaching the officers in a social manner, McKiernan said.

Bubbas owners, Riley Manford and Nick Regalia, wanted the public to know the truth, but the department fought several legal attempts to publicly release officer body camera videos of the shooting.

In January, Manford and Regalia helped organize a march for justice and transparency in San Luis Obispo County. Manford and Regalia want all video recordings of interactions with citizens to be public in support of justice and public safety.

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