Protesters rally against Hawthorne police after Rottweiler shooting


About 100 people held a spirited protest in front of the Hawthorne police headquarters Saturday, angered by an officer’s fatal shooting last week of a Rottweiler who approached police aggressively as the dog’s owner was being arrested.

“We’re here to let the police know how much we care about this,” said David Rutan, 48, a Manhattan Beach lawyer speaking above a din of chants.

Rutan said the protest was spurred not just by outrage over the killing of a dog named Max, who approached officers while barking aggressively after they handcuffed his owner, but also by wariness of police power in general.


“The police just can’t go about their day exercising their power without people checking that power,” he said. “Sometimes they go too far, and they did this time.”

The protest was the latest in a series of angry reactions after the shooting, which gained widespread public notice after a video of the incident was posted to YouTube.

Three police officers involved in the incident were pulled from street duty after receiving death threats. The city’s website, which includes police department information, was hit by a cyber-attack. The computer hacking activist group Anonymous also purportedly posted a video vowing revenge against the department.

“Police of Hawthorne, you must know that you are our primary target,” an alleged Anonymous member says in the video. “This matter will not remain unresolved.”

The shooting occurred at 137th Street and Jefferson Avenue in Hawthorne last Sunday evening, when Leon Rosby showed up with Max, a 2-year-old Rottweiler, and began videotaping a police standoff on the street.

Rosby, 52, got out of his car with Max and walked near a cluster of police cars, then put Max in the car and returned to a sidewalk so he could record the standoff. Officers deemed Rosby to be interfering with their work and put him in handcuffs.

Rosby appeared in the YouTube video to be cooperative, but Max leaped from an open car window. When the large, muscular Rottweiler approached the police, one of the officers drew a gun and fired four times.

Like many others at Saturday’s protest, Judy Bratis said she showed up because of her love of dogs and a belief that the police could have calmed the situation without using bullets.

“This was totally unjustified,” said Bratis, a 60-year-old nurse from Los Angeles. “They could have used a Taser, could have used Mace. They didn’t have to use their guns to stop this dog.”

Hawthorne police are investigating the incident.