Hawthorne police receive threats after deadly Rottweiler shooting
Hawthorne police are receiving threats after a video of officers fatally shooting a Rottweiler was posted on the Internet.
The department is investigating all “credible” threats and beefing up security, spokesman Lt. Scott Swain said. No other details were provided.
The controversy surrounds a video posted on YouTube showing a confrontation Sunday afternoon between police and Leon Rosby at 137th Street and Jefferson Avenue.
Officials and witnesses said Rosby, 52, stopped at the corner to shoot video of a police standoff. He brought along his 2-year-old Rottweiler, Max.
He put the dog on a leash and began taking pictures. Hawthorne police said Rosby’s actions interfered with their work and arrested him.
At that point, Max was in the backseat of Rosby’s car. The dog began barking, jumped out of the car and lunged at officers.
One of the officers then drew a gun and fired four times. Dozens of residents watched the shooting, with some shrieking and moaning, as seen in a video that went viral on the Internet this week.
The incident sparked outrage, leading to the threats directed at the Hawthorne Police Department and Swain, officials said. The video of the Sunday shooting posted on YouTube has received more than 1 million views.
Hawthorne police aren’t the only ones to receive threats following the shooting. An art store in Glendale named Swain’s Art Supplies has been receiving threatening and mean-spirited calls because of the police spokesman’s name.
How the store got dragged into the public blowback appears to be the result of a roughshod search performed by a handful of bloggers, the Glendale News-Press reported.
“We adore animals here and have nothing to do with it,” said Swain’s co-owner Lori Wiest.
As a precaution, Glendale police officers were patrolling the area and have been logging any threatening calls the store received, according to Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
Glendale police are also forwarding any threats made against Lt. Swain to Hawthorne police.
Meanwhile, some community leaders are calling for an investigation into the Hawthorne officers’ actions, and Rosby said he still can’t believe what happened.
Rosby, an ordained minister now working as a licensed contractor, said he was getting images of the crime scene to protect the civil rights of those under investigation by police. When officers questioned him, he said, he asserted his right to record.
Swain said in a statement that Rosby was walking too close to law enforcement officers with Max, who weighed 80 pounds. The music coming from his car was a distraction, authorities said, and created a “dangerous situation” at the crime scene.
In an interview, Swain would not pass judgment on the shooting.
“I’m not saying it’s justified, but even when it’s justified, there are some learning points,” he said. “Could we have done anything different? We’ll look at all those facts.”
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