New Video of Calif. Dog-Shooting Incident: Does It Help Exonerate the Cops?

The Hawthorne, California, police department has a released a new video that it says helps justify the action taken by one of its officers in a dog-shooting incident on June 30 that went viral after a video of it was posted on YouTube last week.

“This video will help us tremendously regarding [dog owner Leon Rosby’s] actions prior to his arrest,” Hawthorne public information officer Lt. Scott Swain told the Huffington Post. “You can see the officer gives out his hand to let the dog sniff it and tries to grab the leash.”

Indeed, the new video — taken at a closer distance than the original — does appear to show the officer who eventually fired multiple shots at the Rottweiler trying to coax the animal and extending an arm as the Rosby yells “Don’t shoot my dog!”

Rosby was being arrested for interfering with officers when he showed up to a separate incident with music blaring and approached the officers with his dog.

You can see a frame-by-frame recap of the new video, which has been heavily redacted by the department to protect the officers’ identities since they have faced death threats and have had to be pulled from street duty:

The new video appears to show the officer extending his hand so the dog can sniff him.
Again, the officer appears to be extending his hand to try and coax and comfort the dog. He does have his pistol drawn at this point.
The attempt fails, and the dog continues to become agitated.
Soon the dog lunges at the officer, who quickly fires off multiple shots. The new video, however, stops after the officer fires the first one.

You can watch it unfold below:

“We’re not trained to shoot one shot or to shoot in the leg. You’re always trained to shoot multiple shots,” Swain told HuffPo. “Firing a gun is a last resort. We’re trained to eliminate the threat, and that’s a judgment call on the officers.”

Still, Swain admitted that the officers do not go through training regarding dogs but said that “it’s something that we’ll consider.”

Robert Helfend, an L.A. defense lawyer, told HuffPo, believes that would be wise.

“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,” he said. “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 department has faced a plethora of public outcry since the incident. Not only has it faced protests, but the hacktivist collective Anonymous has threatened retaliation.