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Leon Rosby, 52, was walking his dog near a police barricade in Hawthorne, California yesterday. Rosby, citing “civil rights violation,” began using his cell phone to video record a group of SWAT officers some 60+ feet away.
The officers claim that Rosby was obstructing the barricade, and began to approach him. He quickly put his dog, a 2-year old Rottweiler named Max, into his vehicle with the windows rolled down, put his phone away and calmly approached the officers. When instructed, and without resistance, Rosby turned around and put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed.
Throughout the entire event, Rosby’s dog is calm, simply walking alongside his owner, no pulling on the leash, no barking at the police or the crowd of spectators that had gathered, just a well-mannered family pet.
It is when police begin handcuffing Rosby and forcing him toward a squad car, that Max begins to bark. When more officers approach and the group of them are patting down Rosby, Max jumps out of the car window and runs toward the officers, to his owners defense.
That’s when an officer fired 4 rounds at the dog, fatally injuring him.
A statement from the Hawthorne Police Department said “the dog lunged and made aggressive movements toward the officer(s)…Fearing that the attacking Rottweiler would imminently bite the officer(s), one officer fired his duty weapon several times, striking and killing the dog.”
A dog doesn’t understand an arrest. A dog can’t discern a police uniform from civilian clothes. A dog only understands that his human is in danger. And Max didn’t deserve to die.
If you can stomach the video below (please be warned it is one of the most shocking, upsetting, unsettling, and disturbing videos we’ve ever seen), you’ll see that Max didn’t attack anyone. He wasn’t being particularly aggressive, but was certainly worried about his loyal friend, Rosby.
How could this situation have played out differently? Rosby never resisted arrest, nor was he an imminent threat to officers if they had un-cuffed him.
They could have released Rosby and given him a second to call off his well-behaved dog.
They should have used non-lethal force, like a TASER or pepper spray.
WARNING: THE VIDEO BELOW CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT:
Leon Rosby plans to file a lawsuit against the Hawthorne Police Department for the wrongful death of his dog, Max. Rosby has several previous complaints against HPD, including one where he claims police broke his rib. One of the officers named in that lawsuit was present on the day that Max was shot and killed.
Whether you believe police acted appropriately in firing at the dog or not, it was recently shown that 50% of all intentional police shootings involve dogs. The majority of these are avoidable and preventable with proper training of police officers in body language and dog handling.
Max did not deserve to die.