Three Hawthorne police officers have been taken off street duty after an incident in which an officer shot a dog that appeared to lunge at him.
Video of the incident went viral this week, showing police officers detaining a man who had been shouting as officers attended to a nearby standoff. The man, Leon Rosby, had pulled up in a car with loud music while police were trying to talk to robbery suspects with a bullhorn. He got out of his car and began recording the incident on his cell phone camera, while shouting at officers.
As Hawthorne police officers moved toward Rosby, he put his Rottweiler into a car. But when police handcuffed Rosby and began to pull him toward the street, the dog jumped through a window and approached officers. The dog backed down at first, but when an officer tried to grab the dog’s leash it appeared to bark and lunch, causing the officer to fire four shots at the animal.
After the incident, Rosby said police targeted him because of a lawsuit he filed against the department. He claims that officers used excessive force against him and unlawfully imprisoned him.
The video, which since being uploaded to YouTube on June 30 has garnered close to 4 million views, caused a strong backlash against the department, including death threats against the officers involved. This week the Hawthorne Police Department decided to pull the officers from street duty.
Hawthorne police spokesman Lt. Scott Swain said the decision was made with the officers’ safety in mind.
“You’d like to believe that maybe some of the people are just venting, but then you’ve got to be realistic. There are crazy people out there,” Swain said.
After the incident where police officers shot and killed the dog, the Hawthorne Police Department has told other officers to be cautious of possible retribution, Swain added.