The viral video of a Hawthorne police officer shooting and killing a dog during its owner’s arrest on June 30 continues to spark outrage and mistrust of the department.
“It’s been very disheartening,” Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager told NBC4 News Thursday.
The department and city officials have received so many threats over the case, to avoid any appearance of bias, Fager has called in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles District Attorney’s office to investigate whether the officers followed proper procedures that day.
“We’ll wait for those factual finding reports before we jump to any conclusions that maybe people out there, who are our negative detractors, have already done,” Fager said.
The three officers involved in controversial shooting have been placed on desk duty and their families are under 24-hour guard due to threats the officers have received.
Leon Rosby, the dog’s owner, has called for an end to the threats and has said he is happy outside agencies are now enlisted in the investigation.
On Thursday, Rosby took the first step toward suing the police department. He filed a claim with the city asking for more than $25,000 in damages.
According to Hawthorne Police Department spokesman Lt. Scott Swain, the Hawthorne city attorney has now recused himself from deciding whether to formally charge Rosby with a misdemeanor count of interfering with officers the day of the shooting, saying it would be a conflict of interest, because Rosby has a previous excessive force lawsuit against the city.
Instead, the police department will hand the case over to the LA County District Attorney’s office, which has until Aug. 12 to file charges.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA-LA) is now offering free training to Hawthorne Police on how to deal with aggressive dogs, an offer the police chief says he’ll consider once the investigation is complete.
The SPCA is also planning to push for a law in California mandating all officers in the state get trained on dog behavior. A similar law recently went into effect in Colorado.
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