Hawthorne police were caught on video shooting and killing a Rottweiler called Max while they were arresting his owner Leon Rosby. The police department has received hundreds of angry emails and calls after the video was uploaded to Reddit on June 30.
According to the Huffington Post
, the video received 32,000 upvotes within two hours of posting to Reddit
NBC Los Angeles
reports police were arresting the owner Leon Rosby, 52, for "obstructing peace officers" at a SWAT stand-off on 137th Street and Jefferson, in Hawthorn, 15 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles when the dog lunged at them.
Officers accused Rosby of interfering with excessively loud music from his car and walking unduly close to the scene of action while filming on his cellphone, the Daily Breeze
He was walking his dog in the neighborhood around 7 p.m. on Sunday when he saw the police surrounding a house where two people were reported robbed at gun point. He tried to record the scene on his cell phone.
When he saw two police officers approaching him, he hastily put his two-year-old Rottweiler, Max, in his car and allowed himself to the handcuffed. By while he was being taken away the dog jumped out through the car window and rushed to his owner's rescue.
One of the officers shot the dog as it lunged at him.
NBC Los Angeles
reports Hawthorne police described the incident in a statement: "This interference included loud, distracting music (from the individual's vehicle), and his intentional walking within close proximity to armed officers, while holding an 80-pound Rottweiler on a long leash-line."
The video posted to YouTube was shot by a bystander a few feet away.
It shows Rosby walking his dog along a sidewalk and recording officers on his cellphone. The video shows police officers walking towards Rosby who put his dog in his car and turned around putting his hands behind his back.
Rosby told NBC Los Angeles
: "They had asked me why am I there? And I said I was filming them so that no one's civil rights were being violated."
The officers handcuffed him and were taking him to their car when his dog jumped out the open car window and barked at the officers. One of the officers tried to grab at the dog's leash but he lunged at the officer who fired four shots.
The statement by the Hawthorne police, said: "Fearing that the attacking Rottweiler would imminently bite the officer(s), one officer fired his duty weapon several times, striking and killing the dog."
The video shows the dog writhing on the ground while the owner cried in distress.
According to ABC News
, Hawthorne police said they were sensitive about the loss of the dog but that they were forced to shoot to stop it from biting.
Lt, Scott Swain told the Daily Breeze
: "It looks like the officer tried to reach down and grab the leash, and then the dog lunges in the direction of him and the other officers there. And I know it's the dog's master, and more than likely not going to attack him, (but) we've got a guy handcuffed that's kind of defenseless. We have a duty to defend him, too."
The Daily Breeze
reports Rosby recalled the incident: "I said, 'No Max. No. Stop.' And then I came out and I said, 'Please don't kill my dog. Please don't kill my dog.' He's just having convulsions. He's in pain. But he hollered out and tried to look back at me. He tried to look back at me to see if I was OK. I'm a grown man. I'm 52 years old. I never thought I'd get attached to a dog like that."
He told the Daily Breeze
, tearfully: "I was crying and hollering, 'My dog! My dog! Max! Max!' He literally shot my puppy I had since he was 6 weeks old... They took a member of my family. They took a member of my family... There was no way Max should have died like that. Max was only protecting his master. He was trying to stop them from beating on me."
Rosby said the police should have allowed him to secure his dog. He admitted: "The music may have been a little loud," and added: "but I was complying. I said, 'Sir, I want to make sure nobody's civil rights were being violated.'"
: "That could've been me. It could've been me laying in the street. They tried to say I was resisting, and my dog knew I wasn't. He died for me because he didn't want me to get killed."
Rosby said the police officers were likely retaliating against him for previous run-ins. According to ABC News
, Rosby has had previous convictions for resisting arrest, battery and driving under influence. He sued the Hawthorne Police Department in March claiming civil rights violations, false imprisonment and battery.
Lt. Swain, however, said that Rosby was arrested because his proximity to the scene was distracting the officers: "It's interfering with what they are able to hear. It's not just a party call. It's an armed robbery call. The officers need to hear what's going on with the people being called out of the residence. That music in his car is bleeding over and it's distracting them."
Many residents witnessed the shooting.
The Daily Breeze
reports a neighbor alleged that when officers told Rosby to turn down the volume, he said: "It's my ****** radio!"
Rosby, however, denied the allegation, saying he is a Christian and that he never swears.
He spent Sunday night in jail and was released the next morning at 5 a.m. He said the police have not allowed him to have his dog's body.
His attorney Michael Gulden said he plans to file a lawsuit against the Hawthorne Police Department. He accused the police of targeting his client because of a pending lawsuit. He said
: "There's been a pattern of harassment against him and other African-Americans in Hawthorne. Last July, the police responded to his home and beat him unnecessarily, then threw him in jail for no reason. We sued for that. We'll amend that complaint to include the dog incident."