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Hawthorne Dog Police Shooting refers to the fatal shooting of a 2-year-old Rottweiler dog by police officers during the roadside arrest of its owner Leon Rosby in Hawthorne, California.
On June 30th, 2013, police officers surrounded a house where a suspected robbery had taken place. A video recorded by YouTuber Gabriel Martinez shows Rosby filming the police on the sidewalk with his dog Max. As police approach Rosby, he can be seen placing the dog inside his car before putting his hands behind his back. After Rosby is handcuffed, the dog jumps through the open window of the car and runs toward the officers. One officer fired four shots at the Rottweiler, killing him shortly after. That evening, Martinez uploaded the video to YouTube, which received over 2.7 million views and 48,200 comments within the first 72 hours.
On July 1st, the video was submitted to the /r/videos subreddit, where it was subsequently deleted by moderators. Over the course of the next several hours, the video was submitted several more times. Also on June 30th, 2013, 4chan posters began spreading false information that the Hawthorne Police Department’s public relations officer was the shooter and the video was posted on the “Anonymous” Facebook page.
Leon Rosby’s Interview
On July 2nd, the BreakingNews2013 YouTube channel uploaded an interview with Rosby, in which he recounts the events that took place leading to the killing of his dog (shown below). In the interview, Rosby named police officer Jeffrey Salmon as the man who shot the Rottweiler.
On the same day, the Hawthorne Police Department put up an incident report on their Facebook page and announced that their public relations officer was not responsible for the shooting. In a press release, the department claimed that the officer had no time to use other methods to detain the dog and encouraged the public to not quickly paint the agency as “animal killers.”
Officer Salmon’s History
On July 2nd, The Examiner published an article reporting that Officer Salmon was one of seven Hawthorne Police Department officers charged with alleged deprivation of civil rights resulting from excessive force, denial of medical treatment and malicious prosecution, stemming from an incident that occurred on July 21st, 2006. The Hawthorne Police Department settled that lawsuit for one million dollars.
Also on July 2nd, the LA Times published an interview with Rosby’s attorney Michael Gulden, who argued that police were retaliating against Rosby for a previous lawsuit filed against the department and that he was a victim of racial discrimination.
“There’s been a pattern of harassment against him and other African-Americans in Hawthorne. Last July, the police responded to his home and beat him unnecessarily, then threw him in jail for no reason. We sued for that. We’ll amend that complaint to include the dog incident.”
Several YouTubers uploaded videos in response to the incident, many of which discussed whether or not the police were justified in their actions.
By July 1st, the Hawthorne Police Department website had become inaccessible due to heavy traffic and the Facebook page became flooded with a stream of unpleasant comments. The Hawthorne Police operation center also became inundated with a heavy volume of phone calls, reportedly receiving about 75 phone calls an hour. By Monday evening, when the video first hit the Internet, the Dispatch Center had received 950 calls over the span of eight hours. On July 3rd, three police officers involved in the shooting were pulled from street duty, following reports of numerous death threats against them and their families. The spokesperson for Hawthorne Police Department was quoted as saying “most of the calls are from people offering opinions, but some threats deemed ‘valid’ are under investigation by other law enforcement agencies. Officers in the field have been told to be ‘extra vigilant.’”
Swain’s Art Supplies in Glendale
A Facebook site was established to demand the removal of Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager, mistakenly posted the art store’s phone number so angry readers could attack Swain. The store received about 100 calls through Tuesday from people angry about the shooting, blaming Lori Wiest for an association with Swain that doesn’t exist. Wiest co-owns Swain’s Art Supplies in Glendale, the Swains haven’t been involved in the business for decades, and Scott Swain isn’t related to them.
New Video Surfaces
On July 3rd, an anonymous man turns in video to Hawthone Police Dept. The video shows a closer view and better audio of what lead to Leon Rosby’s arrest.
On July 3rd, YouTuber OverrideAnonymous released a video on behalf of Anonymous announcing that the group will retaliate against the Hawthorne Police Department for the killing of the dog. While the video didn’t reveal any specific targets or methods of delivery, an anonymous source within the department confirmed that the official website has been offline as a result of a major DDoS attack since July 1st. In addition, a police officer’s name, badge number and address was leaked online as well. In response, Hawthorne’s computer forensics officers and city information technology specialists were called into duty to investigate the cyberattack.
“Police of Hawthorne you must know that you are our primary target. This matter will not remain unresolved… We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us.”
Police Respond to Anonymous Threats
Hawthorne Police are bracing for possible cyberattacks by the group “Anonymous”. They are collaborating with federal agencies and Internet security specialists as they beef up firewalls and evaluate threats to its officers and police station. "We’ve actually brought in our IT department around-the-clock to start upgrading and working on our information systems and firewall systems for upgrades,” said Hawthorne police Sgt. Joel Romero.
Protests in front of Hawthorne Police Dept. went on without any complications Saturday July 6th. Only a small gathering of about a few dozen protesters showed up to show support for Max. Some with their dogs and some with signs saying “Justice for Max” and “Max we love you,” Leon Rosby was there with his two kids, “I wanted to let the protesters know that we really appreciate their love and support for Max and I. It’s awesome to see this,” he said. “It kind of helps the healing for me because it lets me know that we were loved.”