Pointless Dog Shooting

The saddest part about this rottweiler’s being shot is that the dog was not being exceedingly aggressive. You can tell that he’s a good dog. He’s loyal to his owner. He wanted to rescue him. But he probably wasn’t going to hurt any of the police officers.

Very sad.

The video above has received over 5 million views and has generated a lot of criticism of the Hawthorne, CA police department over their use of force. I think at the moment of the shooting, the police responded appropriately. You’ll notice the dog leaps at the officer holding the gun right before he fires the first shot. Perceiving himself to be under attack by a menacing animal, the officer was simply defending himself. The real cause for criticism, I think, is the series of decisions made by the police leading up to the incident. The man in the video has been identified as Leon Rosby. He was being arrested for “interference with officers” because 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.” (police statement) So this was apparently an obstruction arrest, but it’s pretty clear from the video footage that Rosby was not interfering with the police in any significant way. He was taunting them and taking pictures of him with his phone, but he has a legal right to do all of those things. He does not enter the crime scene and he does not address any of the officers directly. If the police felt that Robsy’s actions were obstructing their work, they should have given him warning, and they should informed him of the consequences of what he was doing. When they first approach Rosby, instead of offering to talk they tell him he is being arrested. Rosby peacefully submits. There is no obstruction here. He’s letting the police do whatever they want.

I don’t think anyone in this video has done anything wrong: Rosby, the police, even Max the dog, everyone responded appropriately and predictably to the event. True, Rosby didn’t have to taunt the police, the police didn’t have to arrest Rosby, and the dog could have not jumped at the one of the officers, but it makes sense that all of them did do these things. That the outcome would transpire as it did is tragic.

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