The owner of a dog shot and killed by police in Southern California called Wednesday for threats against the officers involved in the shooting to stop. Local authorities, meanwhile, released a new video that they say shows the officer was justified in opening fire.
Leon Rosby and his family conducted a news conference to address the shooting and fallout, which included threats against members of the Hawthorne Police Department and other individuals. Rosby's dog, Max, was shot and killed Sunday in Hawthorne, about 15 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles. An officer fired after the Rottweiler jumped from an open car window and lunged toward him during a SWAT stand-off with armed robbers.
"Just calm down," said Rosby. "Stop threatening them and their families. All police officers are not bad."
Police also issued a statement Wednesday regarding the shooting, captured on video: "This Department truly feels in the loss of the Rottweiler dog 'Max' and for those impacted by such. We, as a department, as animal owners ourselves, and the officer directly involved himself, all relate and empathize in this."
The statement, posted on the Hawthorne Police Department's Facebook page, addressed the threats, issued primarily through social media, and the department's investigation into the shooting. The statement had more than 1,300 comments Thursday morning.
"Unfortunately, in the midst of this social media response, fallacies are being perpetuated and outright criminal threats are being made," the statement continued. "In the public forum of various websites, department employees have been mis-identified as the officer who shot. This has led to criminal threats of harm directed not only at city employees, but also at similarly-named public citizens who just happen to live and work in our surrounding region."
The police department re-assigned the officers Wednesday to other patrol areas and placed their families under protection.
"These aren't just threats off ill-will," said Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager. "These are absolutely threats to life."
The shooting Sunday at 137th Street and Jefferson Avenue in Hawthorne was captured on at least two cameras -- one video was posted on YouTube, a second released Wednesday by the Hawthorne Police Department was delivered to police headquarters by a resident, according to police.
In the YouTube video (Warning: Disturbing Content), Rosby can be seen with the dog on a leash when he was recording the nearly two-hour police stand-off. After the subjects of the stand-off were arrested, Rosby placed the dog in a car near the street corner and officers began taking him into custody on suspicion of interfering with police activity.
Police said he was playing "loud, distracting" music in his vehicle and walking in close proximity to the officers involved in the stand-off.
"These acts, in totality, created an increasingly dangerous situation," according to a police statement.
As officers handcuffed Rosby, the dog jumped from the open car window and ran toward the officers. One officer opened fire, shooting and killing the animal in the street.
The video released Wednesday shows the confrontation from another angle. The officer can be seen pointing a gun at the dog before it lunges toward the officer. The video -- the department obscured officers' faces -- shows "there wasn't anything else that could have been done," police said.
Rosby can be heard yelling, "Don't shoot my dog, man. Don't shoot him."
The department does not provide training specific to aggressive dogs, Fager told NBC4.
A court date in the obstruction case against Rosby is scheduled for next month.
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