After an officer who shot a charging rottweiler became the subject of a viral video, animal lovers have been sending angry emails, tweets and phone calls to the Hawthorne Police Department. Kim Baldonado reports from Hawthorne for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2013.
An officer shot and killed a Southern California man's dog after it jumped from an open car window and lunged at officers who were taking the Rottweiler's owner into custody on suspicion of interfering with a SWAT stand-off.
Police arrested Leon Rosby, 52, near the scene of the SWAT stand-off in Hawthorne, about 15 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles. Rosby was walking his Rottweiler, Max, and recording the stand-off with armed robbers on his cell phone camera.
"I never meant my dog to be killed and shot like that," Rosby said Tuesday. "He wasn't just shot. He was executed."
A statement from the Hawthorne Police Department detailed his alleged interference: "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 statement said.
The video, posted on YouTube (Warning: Disturbing Content), showed Rosby walking his dog along a sidewalk and recording officers on his cell phone. Another man who was also apparently recording the police incident was standing just a few feet away from Rosby, but he was not approached by officers.
Officers stared at Rosby for several seconds and began walking toward him. Rosby placed his dog into his car and, as officers approached, turned around and put his hands behind his back.
Rosby can be heard saying something about civil rights.
"They had asked me why am I there?" Rosby later told NBC4. "And I said I was filming them so that no one's civil rights were being violated."
The officers handcuffed him and the dog began barking out of one of the car's open windows. The dog jumped out and barked at the officers.
One of the officers reached toward the dog several times, apparently trying to grab its leash. The dog lunged at him and he fired four shots at the dog.
The Hawthorne Police Department statement continued, "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 dog fell to the ground, yelping and writhing in the street. The animal's owner, still handcuffed, cried out and his legs buckled.
The video is available on YouTube here. Warning: As previously described, it contains extremely disturbing content.
Michael Gulden, Rosby's attorney, said his client was targeted because he had a pending lawsuit against the Hawthorne Police Department. Rosby alleged that police beat him without cause.
"We'll be amending the complaint to include another excessive force action as well," Gulden said.
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