Hawthorne Officers Receiving Death Threats After Dog-Shooting

7.7.13 - Hawthorne Death Threats

Police officers in Hawthorne, California have been subject to worldwide castigation following the shooting of an innocent dog, and are now receiving scores of threats that have lead to the removal of the officers in question from street duty.

This is a story that no one at Life With Dogs has wanted to touch – there are so many tragic cases of dog abuse and shootings by police, and we try to keep the heart-wrenching stories to a minimum. But there are cases where the public’s help is needed identifying an abuser, or where despite the horrific circumstances, it’s just something people need to be made aware of.

Last week police officers were captured on video shooting a non-vicious dog. They were arresting Leon Rosby, who they claim was disturbing a crime scene by videotaping their actions while blasting music from his car. Officers walked down the block to approach Rosby, who put his leashed Rottweiler, Max, into the vehicle, and turned around to be cuffed.

Understandably upset or confused by what was happening, Max jumped out of the window and ran over to his owner. Max did not violently lunge at the officers, but they shot him several times (this writer refuses to watch the video, so please excuse any errors). Also captured on video are the screams of horror by onlookers.

This is incident is one of many in a string of dog shootings by police. These animals are not attacking – many are simply friendly escape artists roaming their neighborhood, or even worse, as in the case of Maddie, just lying on their porch, wagging their tails.

For every feel-good story we read about an officer coming to the rescue of a dog, there are five shootings. What is going on with these trigger-happy police?? When humans are threatening or seem unstable, police don’t immediately shoot them. They give warnings and modify their own body language to try to put the person at ease. If it becomes necessary, a baton or taser is used; guns are a last resort. So why are our family pets routinely being blown away for trotting up to officers?

Mail carriers don’t carry guns on the job, and they come into far more contact with vicious dogs than police. They carry pepper spray, and the smart ones bring treats, knowing that a seemingly vicious dog is just being protective and needs a peace offering before allowing an intruder onto their property.

When it comes to officers conducting raids or protecting themselves from legitimate threats of attack, no one is questioning their right to protect themselves. But when there is plenty of time to saunter down the street to approach a man whose large dog is clearly in view, why were self-protective measures not taken instead of a “shoot first, think later” mentality? The officer who shot Max could have retreated, giving both himself and the dog a second to think about what might happen next. If Max attacked, the officer could have raised his knee into Max’s chest, stopping him and knocking the wind out of him, or a baton could have been used to stun him. Some officers have been known to use small fire extinguishers to stop an attacking dog.  But for a dog that is just curious and protective of his owner to be shot dead is unthinkable.

People around the world are horrified by the callous reaction of the shooting officer, and many have gone so far as to make threats against him and his colleagues. The police department issued a statement Wednesday, offering an apology for the shooting of Max. But most have not forgiven the blunder.

Unfortunately, in the midst of this social media response, fallacies are being perpetuated and outright criminal threats are being made,” the police department wrote. “In the public forum of various websites, department employees have been misidentified as the officer who shot. This has led to criminal threats of harm directed not only at city employees, but also at similarly-named public citizens who just happen to live and work in our surrounding region.”

Facebook user Harmit Tamber had this as a reply: “You know you’re a disgrace when people would rather see your officers dead than an innocent dog. Find a hole, crawl in it.”

Computer-hacking activist group Anonymous had something to say, as well. They created a video on YouTube with a message for the Hawthorne Police, letting them know their actions were “unacceptable.” Though it is not clear that Anonymous was behind it, on Monday the department’s website had been hacked and was down for several days.

Due to the numerous threats, the officers involved in the shooting have been pulled from street duty. (We know what you’re thinking, the offending officer should be pulled permanently!) Rosby is appreciative for the support he has received, but the grieving man has asked that the threats against the officers’ families stop. He insisted that “not all police officers are bad.”

But we need to make good officers even better, especially with how they treat our animals. Some departments are now offering advanced training in how to deal with dogs and read their body language, which allows officers to better assess a genuine threat from posturing. But this is something that needs to be enforced in every department across the country. Surely, it could not take so much time and money that the taxpayers keeping these officers employed would not see it as a worthwhile investment. After all, if they are expected to know how to deal with adults, children, abuse victims, criminals, and all sorts of crazy situations while maintaining their composure, they should also be expected to know how to deal with the furry family members in 50 percent of American homes.


  1. Anonymous says on  07/07/2013 at 4:09 pm

    This guy was arrested for disturbing a crime scene hmmmm.Swhat about the guy standing maybe 4 ft from him videoing as well.This officer is abviously trigger happy and needs to be FIRED.An innocent dog was murdered in cold blood

  2. Renee says on  07/07/2013 at 4:20 pm

    I’m 46 and have known MANY good POs in my life BUT I’ve known even more bad ones. Yesterday a PO in my community made a public statement basically saying that ALL POs deserve respect and compliance from the communities they ‘serve’. That just isn’t true anymore, at all. I live in West TX where I volunteer in the community and hear so much I wish I didn’t know about the Officers that serve here. It’s hard to believe/respect good officers when you know there are so many bad ones here (who’s deeds ARE KNOWN by superiors and coworkers) that carry on with their prejudiced brutality completely unchecked.

  3. Dan says on  07/07/2013 at 4:33 pm

    I see how the justice system uses people to “make an example of.” Maybe it time to start “making an example” of police officers by relieving them of their badge and job.It’s suppose to be “to serve and protect”, not to be judge, jury and executioner of these animals.

  4. Paulette Archuleta says on  07/07/2013 at 4:38 pm

    I must start my message by saying that I am truly sorry for the loss of any and all innocent pets and stray animals that have come to an awful and painful death at the hands of some despicable police officers. And I am truly sorry for the people who lost their beloved pets due to some police officers abuse of power. With that said, while I support police officers in general, I must say that I only support good, honest, hardworking, law abiding police officers who do not take their power and their profession as a means of an excuse to shoot and kill innocent dogs or any other type of innocent animal or animals. Police officers should be held accountable for their actions and they should be punished accordingly for their heinous crime or crimes just like ordinary citizens should be. Police officers should not be held above everyone else for they are human beings just like the rest of us, for they are not gods. I implore everyone to get petitions started and signed against gun and trigger happy police officers who feel that it is acceptable to maim and or kill mans best friend. And I ask that everyone see to it that these unprofessional and undeserving “law abiding” police officers serve time in jail, lose their jobs, lose their right to own an animal or animals, and lose the right to ever serve as an employee in any other police department, sheriff’s department, etc. for their disgusting and sick crimes against all animals. Thank you. Sincerely, Mrs. Paulette Archuleta.

  5. johson says on  07/07/2013 at 5:23 pm

    Why aren’t these cops fired? they are a danger to their community. police shouldn’t police police.

  6. Anonymous says on  07/07/2013 at 5:28 pm

    The officer responsible should be fired and jailed, I don’t condone threatening people but whatever happens he brought on himself. There have been way too many officers shooting dogs and getting away with it just because they wear a badge.

    • brian says on  07/10/2013 at 11:18 am

      yes there is way more dirty po’s that should be taken off the force
      a good police officer is a small minority
      it is sickning the way a polce oficer hides behind there bage to commite crimes against animales and humans.. they deffinitly need to go thru a shrink monthly since so many crimes are commited by po’s
      god help us against big brother

  7. Anonymous says on  07/07/2013 at 5:47 pm

    Whats…up? The officers are stupid, under trained, over weight, out of shape and under paid. If we want good police officers in this country to protect us , they need to be paid well and trained well. Where is our money going? Obviously not in to schools, teacher education and law enforcement training. That is where it needs to go.!!!!! Not to the politicians and drug companies. Hello…it’s not rocket science.

  8. Anonymous says on  07/07/2013 at 6:38 pm

    We are still not over are dog shanie dying of cancer,a few weeks ago,I’m not sleeping very well, then I see these police office’s shooting that poor dog,it’s up set me so much,it’s owner must be devastated ( so so sorry) the dog was only trying to protect it’s owner,what eny dog would do,wish I did not watch it now,dog lover from.Liverpool ENGLAND. (DEVASTATED)

    • In Sympathy says on  07/07/2013 at 9:27 pm

      Very sorry for the loss of your Shanie.
      As I watch over the last days of my dear dog, Duke, I find myself taking some small comfort in the fact that dogs like yours, mine and Max in the video knew nothing but love most of their lives.
      It rips my heart out too that they should ever suffer at all – and especially in such a senseless way as Max.
      Another dog lover in Minnesota, USA

  9. cybersibes says on  07/07/2013 at 7:06 pm

    I won’t watch the video either, his dog looks so very like my Rosie.
    It is tragic that grown men with guns are so feaful for their lives and ignorant of canine behavior that they would shoot a defensless animal without hesitation.

    Whats even more pathetic is the quote by Facebook user Harmit Tamber
    “You know you’re a disgrace when people would rather see your officers dead than an innocent dog. Find a hole, crawl in it.”

    Really? Do you think that dog would jump up & rip the officers throat out or something? Or use his paws to disembowl them on the spot? Idiot!

    Godspeed, Max, you didn’t deserve this.

    • threenorns says on  07/08/2013 at 5:24 pm

      what’s wrong with harmit’s statement? i agree 100%!

      it IS a disgrace when ppl would rather see the officer shot than the dog.

      normally, ppl approve of and support their police officers – but it’s gotten to the point that i, for example, don’t even care what the circumstances were any more. normally, i try to learn more about the situation before forming an opinion but i only have one opinion right now: they need to start taking these officers out!

      out of the force, “out” out, i don’t care – i want it all to stop!

  10. Anonymous says on  07/07/2013 at 7:29 pm

    I’d like to make a couple of points about this. First: I watched the video and read the articles. Second: The civilian in question (dog owner) while within his rights to video what the police were doing, was clearly violating a noise ordinance and was told to turn the music down. He did not comply. Personally, I hate people that play their music so loud that I can hear it 3 blocks away. It’s annoying as hell. It’s possible he did not even hear them telling him to be quiet thus forcing them to approach him. When the police approached the dog owner he should have SECURED his dog in the car. PERIOD! If that one thing had been done we would not be talking about this. It’s good that he did not resist arrest. It’s bad that the dog got out of the car because of the owners failure to properly secure the animal. Third: The cops? Well, cops are people too and like many people, fear of dogs (especially big dogs) comes into play. The video clearly shows the dog lunging at the police and coming into contact with them. No question about that. Should the dog have been shot? Probably not as there were a couple of other options (mace, baton) the police could have used. Bottom line is that the death of the dog, while truly unfortunate, is the owners fault. Fourth: Watch the video and listen to the creepy “community organizer” commentator bring race into this mess and suggest that if the dog owner were “white” he might have been treated differently and the dog would not have been shot. I don’t even have the words to express how sick I am of race baiting assholes getting even one second of publicity to spread their hatred. I don’t even understand why they were talking to him at all. He does not know the officers in question or the dog owner. Just another political wannabe spewing the usual crap. I think most of us have had enough of “community organizers” by now. My 2 cents.

    • threenorns says on  07/08/2013 at 5:26 pm

      soooo…. if a 9yr old boy comes running at him in a threatening manner holding an object in an upraised hand, it’s okay for the cop to shoot him and then go over to see what it was he was holding?

      “cops are ppl too”, after all, and fear of getting shot is certainly more likely than fear of a probably non-lethal bite.

  11. Louise says on  07/07/2013 at 8:40 pm

    I unfortunately watched this video and was nearly sick I was shocked by what happened.. this poor innocent animal was clearly distressed that its owner was leaving him and wanted to follow him you see the dog is nervous it bowed down when its owner told him to go and then was shot for barking attacking dogs do not bark they attack .. If Maxs intentions were to attack then he would of immediately done that with no thought .. and to be shot 5 times poor Max was terrified of the loud noise from the first shot why 4 more .. and all with his owner watching .. sick just sick the poor owner of Max then broke down and was then dragged away after watching the murder of a member of his family … and why did this happen because he took a picture or a short video of the officers in the street though nothing was said to the group of people yards behind him filming for a lot longer .. senseless .. The owner was cooperating with the officers the only crime committed was by the police themselves .. This whole incident wont leave my mind my dog barks all the time he thinks he is talking to people he is of no threat its what dogs do .. Inhumane behavior and by officers of the law.. A disgrace .. I hope I never have to visit your country. Louise (PORTUGAL)

  12. Windswept - UK says on  07/07/2013 at 11:58 pm

    I won’t watch this video, or any video that shows dogs being abused and or killed/murdered. I can’t watch because I know it will make me sick and angry, very, very angry.

    That being said, I still think Life with Dogs, should cover these stories, even though they are unpleasant and emotional to many readers of this blog, because we all need to be made aware and reminded of the cruelty that we often humans cause to our beloved furry family members.

    I love all the many great and wonderful rescue stories we read here on Life with Dogs, but we need to at least read, (if not watch), the many heart breaking stories of cruelty too.

    As for the officers that shot this poor rottie, I wish them a living hell for what they have done, their actions were inhumane, sadistic and cruel, they deserve to be stripped of their position, prosecuted and jailed. But again, that is just my opinion.

  13. Jay says on  07/08/2013 at 5:28 am

    Can someone please post a picture of the Officer, leaked info about his past, his home address and the name of his lawyer. I would really like to figure this out. At the same time, and, as we all know, we are ALL being watched, next to the PIG who killed Oscar grant in Oakland, this PIG deserves to not only loose his job, to pay the owner at least 1 Million , but to also be tortured, both mentally and physically. Kind of like a scene from Resivoir Dogs. Lastly, he shall be left in Joshua Tree, naked, with a bottle of dog urine only.

  14. Furkid Mom says on  07/08/2013 at 6:28 pm

    There is an excellent article in LAW ENFORCEMENT TODAY which is making the rounds. It is basically telling these cops that the shootings have to stop. Its too long to print here in its entirety buy I am you can google it and find it. This blog should print it. Here is the gist:

    “To police officers who may be reading this article, in simple language it means dogs are now considered protected under the Fourth Amendment. If you shoot a family dog, the family will likely sue you, your police department and your city. Combine this with the change in perception by the courts, a guilty verdict is highly likely. A few officer’s have been charged with animal cruelty for acting irresponsibly. Many times this shows not only a lack of common sense, but also an officer who shows no compassion while performing his duties.”

    I dont approve of death threats they just make us look as bad as the scum who kill these dogs. But this should be the approach. OUT THEM, SHAME THEM, SUE THEM! The police work for US and for our families and that includes our animals.

  15. Anonymous says on  07/09/2013 at 10:02 am

    Wow, such vile hatred towards the Police. Not too many bashing the “master” of the dog. You all scream for their heads, their addresses and phone numbers and pasts. What about Rosbys past? Drunk driving, domestic violence, drunk and disorderly… Yet he claims he is a minister, a Christians… How many ministers/Christians do you know tell police “it’s my fucking radio, my civil right” ?? How many ministers do you know drive to various crime scenes to heckle cops about “no black officers here” and yelling down the block that he is watching out for for civil rights violations??? Hummm?? IF he is such a wonderful community activist, where are Jesse and Al to stand by his side and demand justice?? Why does he not speak on camera about his several complaints against the PD and fill in the blanks about all the “abuses” against him?? I have owned Rotti’s for 24 years, I cried like hell over Max’s death. I wanted to rant and rave at the shooter, until I saw the full video of Rosby begging for the confrontation and seeing Max lunge at the officer trying to get a hold of his lead to secure him… I am sorry for Max’s death, it is tragic, was preventable and gives my beloved breed a bad name. It is owners like Rosby that perpetuates the image of vicious dogs. He lives just around the corner, left his kid playing in the street just to show who the man was… Sad and pathetic on his part. Ps. His prior dog had been poisoned. .???

  16. Anonymous says on  07/09/2013 at 3:19 pm

    It’s a shame so many people immediately jump to blame the police officers without putting themselves in the situation. That dog was clearly attacking with the intent to bite. They work with K9 dogs and put their lives at risk daily for others. Yes there are bad apples in every walk of life . I’m sorry for the dog. The owner clearly put him in the situation. I hope they are acquitted and the man goes to jail for his actions. He was in the wrong.

    • Anonymous says on  07/10/2013 at 2:19 am

      “It’s a shame so many people immediately jump to blame the police officers without putting themselves in the situation. That dog was clearly attacking with the intent to bite. They work with K9 dogs and put their lives at risk daily for others. Yes there are bad apples in every walk of life . I’m sorry for the dog. The owner clearly put him in the situation. I hope they are acquitted and the man goes to jail for his actions. He was in the wrong.”


      This dumbass of coursse the dog had the intent to bite but they could have just pepper sprayed the dog. UH JUMP ON THE CAR? DO ANYTHING BUT TAKE A LIFE fucking retarded ass dude above me

    • brian says on  07/10/2013 at 11:36 am

      you are so wrong i saw the video of that crime scene the dog was not lunging
      you need to go to a series of dogtraining class’s
      learn what the hell your talking about!!!!!!

  17. Anonymous says on  09/07/2013 at 6:09 am

    its a shame so many people want to protect an officer who shot an innocent dog . And then left it to die in the streets . This officer deserves to be treated as he treated that
    animal and anyone who defends him . People like these arent worth anything . This officer is a menace to society and does not protect . He is a danger to not only animals but people and for these people to defend this animal killer makes them the same . I wish all people like this would be prosecuted for denying an innocent animals right to live. Officers like these shoot everyone .

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