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Disciplinary action expected by SLO police chief after leaving her gun in restaurant bathroom

Posted at 2:34 PM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-11 23:02:19-04

After leaving her gun in a restaurant bathroom, the San Luis Obispo police chief says she is expecting disciplinary action to be taken by city leaders. The weapon remains missing at this time.

Chief Deanna Cantrell admitted Wednesday night in a video sent to the media to accidentally leaving her personal gun in the restroom at the El Pollo Loco on Los Osos Valley Road while at lunch.

Cantrell tells KSBY News she is anticipating she will receive some form of disciplinary action but declined to comment further.

In the video statement, Cantrell said the gun was in a holster but she removed it because it did not stay clipped to her pants.

In the video, Cantrell says she noticed what she describes as her “mistake” within minutes, but that when she went back, the gun was gone.

“I talk about transparency and having a relationship that’s built on trust with our community, so I also want to make sure I practice what I believe,” Cantrell said in the video, adding, “Therefore, I think you should hear this from me.”

Surveillance video obtained by police reportedly shows three people, including a 10-year-old boy, going into and out of the restroom at separate times before Cantrell noticed her firearm was missing.

Cantrell says the boy and another man both said they had not seen the gun but the first man who entered after Cantrell reportedly left the restaurant within two minutes and never ordered food.

Police released pictures of the man on Facebook in an effort to identify him.

City Manager Derek Johnson released a statement late Wednesday night.

“I want to assure our community that protecting the public’s safety is our number one priority,” Johnson said. “I have personally spoken with Chief Cantrell, who apologized for this mistake and has voluntarily agreed to attend training on firearms safety practices. She has also vowed to use this incident as a training opportunity for all officers in the department. Having carried a firearm safely for 25 years, she is committed to serving as an example of the level of vigilance that must be maintained at all times, regardless of experience or rank.”

The firearm safety training is not considered to be discipline, according to Cantrell, who declined an on-camera interview Thursday morning.

The city is expected to released additional information Thursday, including possible disciplinary action for Cantrell.

Cantrell says after discovering her gun was missing, she immediately notified law enforcement, including her supervisor, and the firearm was entered into a national database.

“My actions were irresponsible and dangerous, and I am so grateful that after our preliminary investigation, a child didn’t find it,” Cantrell said in the video. “I was complacent and that is something you can never be with a firearm. I expect more from myself as a person and especially as a police officer that has carried a firearm for 25 years.”

She goes on to say, “I expect to be held accountable and I want to publicly apologize for my carelessness and I hope that in some way, this serves as a lesson for others.”

Anyone with information that may help police with this incident is asked to contact police at (805) 781-7312.