When a Hawthorne police officer was captured on cellphone video shooting the dog of a man he and other officers were arresting (in self-defense, the department argues), some residents in the small southern California town reacted with outrage. But the department has released a second video of the tragic event it feels clears its officers of any wrongdoing, according to the Huffington Post.
It didn’t take long after the original video of the shooting was posted to YouTube last week for the department to get angry phone calls and complaints; three officers involved in the case received death threats, prompting the department to remove them from street duty.
The second video, taken by another witness on the scene, shows more interaction between the dog owner, Leon Rosby, his Rottweiler and the officers. The arresting officer is seen in the video reaching for the leash several times as the dog showed aggression. The dog lunges at the officer before he shoots it four times.
“This video will help us tremendously regarding [Rosby's] actions prior to his arrest,” said public information officer Lt. Scott Swain, who sent the video to The Huffington Post. “You can see the officer gives out his hand to let the dog sniff it and tries to grab the leash.”
Here is more from The Huffington Post:
Many people have asked why the officer needed to shoot four times, accusing him of being “trigger-happy.” However, Swain said that’s the department’s policy.
“We’re not trained to shoot one shot or to shoot in the leg. You’re always trained to shoot multiple shots,” Swain said. “Firing a gun is a last resort. We’re trained to eliminate the threat, and that’s a judgment call on the officers.”
However, Robert Helfend, a defense attorney in LA, questioned the officers’ actions.
“Once the officers made the decision to detain Mr. Rosby, they seemed to have no plan in place regarding the handling of his dog. It would seem, in hindsight, that the officers could have simply let Mr. Rosby go temporarily, to contain his animal,” Helfend told HuffPost. “They then could have permitted Mr. Rosby to phone someone to pick up the dog. The so-called crime that Mr. Rosby supposedly committed was not life-threatening nor was he a danger to the community.”
The Hawthorn PD says it arrested Rosby because he interfered in a police operation with his “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 … created an increasingly dangerous situation and demanded officers’ focus away from the matter at hand.”
Rosby remains critical of the police but has spoken out since the incident to discourage residents from using violence against law enforcement.>