WARNING: GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING VIDEO
Dogs don’t distinguish between cops and robbers, or good guy and bad. They have a simpler world view, which is owner versus threats to owner. In Hawthorne, California, when a Rottweiler tried to protect his owner from police who were arresting the owner for filming them, the police shot the dog dead – and it was all caught on camera.
(Read More: Blood Forcefully Taken From DUI Suspects By Police.)
Hawthorne is a suburb outside of Los Angeles. Leon Rosby, 52, was walking his dog along Hawthorne’s streets when he came upon a house with several police squad cars parked outside it. Rosby decided to videotape the scene “To make sure,” he told a local paper, “nobody’s civil rights were being violated.” What Rosby didn’t realize was that someone else was videotaping him.
Hawthorne police had arrived at the scene in response to a call about an armed robbery. As is usual nowadays, everyone nearby started filming the scene on a cellphone. Resident Gabriel Martinez filmed Rosby driving up to the scene in a black Mazda. According to police, Rosby’s radio was blaring, which interfered with their police work.
Said police Lt. Scott Swain, “it’s 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.”
Instead of lowering the volume, Rosby simply pulled out his own smartphone and began filming. According to a neighbor, Rosby responded to the request to turn down the music by saying “It’s my (expletive) radio!” Rosby’s own version was more temperate. “I do apologize if I didn’t immediately comply. The music may have been a little loud but I was complying,”
According to Rosby, he sweetly said. “I said, ‘Sir, I want to make sure nobody’s civil rights were being violated.'” Additionally, said Rosby, as a Christian, he wouldn’t swear.
After police arrested the robbery suspect, they approached Rosby. They told Rosby that they intended to arrest him and that he should put his dog in the car. Rosby did so, but he left the car’s window’s open. He then walked up to the officers with his hands behind is back, ready to be cuffed.
The video shows that, as Rosby was cuffed, the dog, a 3-year-old, 130-pound Rottweiler leapt out of the car and lunged for Rosby and the officer. As Rosby hollered “No, Max!,” the officer fired several shots at the dog, who died in the street.
Rosby is heartbroken. “He literally shot my puppy I had since he was 6 weeks old,” he said. “I was crying and hollering, ‘My dog! My dog! Max! Max!”’
(Read More: Crazed Monkey Attacks Cop During Traffic Stop.)
After the video went viral, and the Hawthorne police were called upon to explain their conduct, they were sorry the dog died, but they are not repentant about shooting him. “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,” Lt. Swain said. “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.”
Rosby doesn’t think that it was this simple. After he was released from an overnight stay in jail following an obstruction charge, he got himself a lawyer and is planning on filing suit. As far as he’s concerned, the police were acting in retaliation based upon a suit he filed against the City of Hawthorne and against two police officers, claiming that they broke one of his ribs when they responded to a domestic violence call at his home.
Indeed, Rosby has had several run-ins with the police. Court records show he has been convicted for resisting arrest, battery, and DUI. Rosby, who is black, claims that he’s been the victim of harassment, mistreatment, and racial profiling, and has filed six complaints against the police department.
As far as Rosby’s concerned, the true victim is Max. They were returning together from a dog park and the dog had been licking his neck as they drove. “All he [Max] did was love me,” said Rosby.
The story is certainly heartrending, but there are enough stories of people being savaged by dogs to recognize the police officer’s legitimate fear when a 130-pound Rottweiler looked fully prepared to attack them. Monday morning quarterbacking is easy. Facing down the slobbering jaws of an enraged dog, however, is a time of split-second decision making. And Rosby, for all his claims of being a law-abiding good citizen sounds like something of a character and, from the police’s point of view, a possibly dangerous one too.
Hawthorne “Police” Department Phone Number: Phone:(310) 349-2700