Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal

On Sunday, a Southern California police officer fatally shot and killed a dog in the City of Hawthorne, while arresting the dog’s guardian for obstruction of justice at a crime scene.

LAPD Hawthorne Police officer shoots and kills dog
A young Rottweiler was shot and killed by Southern California police officers as they arrested his guardian for obstruction of justice in Hawthorne, CA this past weekend. Photo Credit: Gabriel Martinez via YouTube

The incident was all captured in a disturbing video that is now making its way around the Internet.

Uploaded to YouTube on June 30 (Warning: Disturbing Content), the graphic footage documents a group of police gathering in a barricade situation on 137th Street and Jefferson. A man, Leon Rosby, watches and films the SWAT team with his cell phone as he walks his leashed Rottweiler, Max.

Rosby appears to yell at the police officers from the sidewalk. Three officers eventually approach him, at which point Rosby brings his dog into the backseat of a car. Rosby briefly engages with the officers and is handcuffed and arrested shortly after.

At this point, the distressed dog begins to bark and jumps out of the vehicle through the open rear window, moving toward the officers.

The dog barks at the officers to back down from his guardian until one officer shouts at him. Another officer reaches at the dog several times in an apparent attempt to grab the leash. The dog then lunges forward, at which point the officer fires four shots, killing the two-year-old dog.

The Hawthorne Police Department released a statement that says, “Fearing that the attacking Rottweiler would imminently bite the officer(s), one officer fired his duty weapon several times, striking and killing the dog.”

According to attorney Michael Gulden, Rosby plans to sue the Hawthorne Police Department for killing his dog.

“I never meant my dog to be killed and shot like that,” Rosby told NBC Tuesday. “He wasn’t just shot. He was executed.”

The distressing incident has sparked a controversial debate over whether or not the police officer was justified in killing the dog.

While some say the officer was acting in self-defense, others say shooting the animal four times was an excessive response.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time a domestic animal has been shot to death by a police officer.

In fact, according to an ASPCA review of public records, approximately half of all firearms discharged by police officers involve shooting a dog.

What’s more, there is even an entire Facebook page devoted to sad stories from people whose dogs were killed by police.

The problem lies in the fact that officers rarely receive instruction in animal behavior, which can lead them to misinterpreting a non-threatening dog’s intentions as hostile.

“Although they may encounter truly dangerous dogs in some situations, the majority of dogs they are likely to meet are well-behaved family pets that are legitimately protecting their homes and families from intruders,” according to the ASPCA.

All too often, these officers resort to lethal force when other options are available.

The Justice Department has issued guidelines on how police should handle dogs, stating, “lethal force is a last resort and rarely necessary,” and cops should first use a tranquiler gun, chemical repellent, or baton when responding to aggressive dogs.

Groups like the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offer free training to police departments on how to quickly assess animal aggression, but sadly both organizations say very few departments actually accept the offer.

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63 COMMENTS

  1. With regards to the whole incident in Hawthorne, CA involving Max the rottweiler and his owner (still going on for who knows why), I'm just not even going to bother anymore. The amount of shortsighted people that let the love for an animal cloud most, if not all, sense of logic, insight, and analysis is just too damn high, but for some reason, I'll explain my input… again. Mr. Rosby was clearly in an unsafe area making himself a problem to the police who were already dealing with an armed robbery case. by blaring loud music while not complying with police to turn it down while filming everything with his phone rather close to where everything was taking place. Looking at Rosby's back story, he was probably looking for proof to fulfill a court case in which he filed against the police for alleged mistreatment. He was being detained for obstruction of justice, and left Max in his car with the windows down, leaving Max with the option to exit the car. Of course, Max jumps in to defend Rosby while he's being detained, and the police now have to handle more problems. It was obvious that the police didn't want to go for an event that would make headlines, so an officer attempted to grab Max's leash several times, but Max resisted and lunged at the officer with bare teeth, prompting the officer to shoot the dog in SELF-DEFENSE. Right now, as we speak, the barrage of the usual "Fuck the police" and similar statements are still coming in at a high rate. Now, whose fault would this be? I'm not really one to point fingers, but it really is pointing more towards Rosby himself; he was asserting himself as a problem in a armed police conflict, and he was so caught up in his quest for leverage against the police that he didn't really see things through. For the sake of avoiding instigation of more hate, I'll put out these questions… could the situation have been handled better? Yeah, of course; animal control could've been notified so they could prevent further escalation. Was the amount of force excessive? Yeah, no fucking question, but the officer was in the heat of the action with his fight-or-flight instinct, and he contained the situation with limited resources before people got their throats ripped out. And, of course, "What about tasers, pepper spray, etc." Again, fight-or-flight instinct when facing a dog that could rip your throat out. By the end of the day, all of the hateful comments are going to be hilariously ironic considering how the police are going to be the first group these drooling morons would call when they need help… that's right: the very people doing their jobs that the internet bastardized are now coming to their aid. If by now you still abide by your derogatory claims against the police, you should probably work on getting your head out your ass and realize that police officers face the rough, difficult situations so you can be safe. The police force isn't perfect, and not everything can go exactly the way people want them to, but if you're still alive and on the internet, it means they're doing their jobs right.

  2. He was already cuffed. A known criminal with a grudge against Police and people seriously think that the Police should have unruffled him, let him go back to his car to secure the dog or take him home? Any idea how many nice cops have been shot by thugs like Rosby? With Rosby.'s attitude the cops probably thought, " if we let him go to secure the dog, he will sic it on us and while we are distracted he could pop a few rounds off at us" it happens. Rosby was the aggitator, he lives just a block away, left his kid playing in the street to go try to aggregate the PoPo. He's an idiot and he is mostly responsible for Max's death. I do feel that the cops should have ignored the buzzing little maggot, but he refused to turn down his music and the cops were at a working crime scene…

  3. You are an idiot…seriously an IDIOT. by the way "lock-jaw" isn't real, no such thing. You must believe everything you hear. You probably believe in fucking unicorns. All they had to do was have the owner secure his dog once the car wasn't enough, that's it, pepper spray would have been enough. It's much stronger than what a civilian can buy. No fucking wonder the cop shot the dog. She probably has the same narrow minded thought pattern as you.