Recently, there has been significant fuss about an incident in Hawthorne, CA in which officers shot and killed a large, 2 year old Rottweiler. The incident with the dog being shot, and several minutes prior to that was all captured on video by another bystander to the original Police incident (video below, viewer discretion advised). Before I delve into this, let me start by telling you I am a dog lover. I’ve owned dogs my entire life, and I have two right now. I have never owned a Rottweiler, but I have always liked them and wanted one the longest time, but did not have a large enough place to accommodate one. Please don’t take what I say here as if it is coming from a person who dislikes dogs.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDBZr4ie2AE]
There are two separate issues with this encounter, and they need to be looked at separately before they can be looked at as a whole. The first issue, and the one I see as the most valid issue, is did the cops have a legal right to detain the dog’s owner, Leon Rosby? The second issue is were the cops justified in shooting that dog?
As to the first issue, did the cops have legal cause to detain Rosby? My initial gut reaction, from watching the long version of the video (above), is no. BUT, that no is solely based on what I saw in that video. As more information comes out about this incident, it appears that one of the cops at the scene that went to detain/arrest Rosby knew Rosby from prior calls for service. I have no idea what he may have known about Rosby, or why they decided to detain Rosby, because to my knowledge, that information was not been released. There has been much speculation that they were detaining him because he was filming them. If that is the case, then those officers need some serious training updates as it is completely legal for private citizens to film the cops. Do we like it? No more than you would like me following you at work and filming what you do, but it is legal. I have to reserve final judgment on the legality of the detention until all the facts are made public, but at this point I am tilting to the “not legal” side.
The second issue, were the cops justified in shooting the dog? Hell yes they were, as would be any private citizen in that situation. That was a very big Rottweiler that was being very aggressive towards the officers. I do not blame the dog though, as the dog was doing what any good dog would: it was defending its owner. The cops can be seen trying to get the leash to get the dog back, and the owner was also trying to get the dog to back off, but the dog was not backing off and just prior to being shot, the dog is lunging at one of the officers with its large mouth wide open. A dog that size, when properly motivated, can do a significant amount of damage in a very short time. Lethal force to prevent that attack is very clearly justified, like it or not.
Now, when looking at the situation as a whole, we have a problem. If the detention of Rosby is unlawful, then that unlawful detention is what lead to the dog’s being shot, and Rosby would have a very good case for a civil lawsuit. If Rosby’s detention is legal, which remains to be seen, then the shooting of the dog is a non-issue.
However, the outcry I am seeing on the interwebz seems to be far more concerned with the shooting of the dog than the legality of Rosby’s detention. While I do not enjoy seeing any dog shot like that, I think the public outcry in this situation is based far too much on emotion verses logic. Just like all of the gun control arguments out there, we must approach this situation in a logical manner instead of an emotional one.
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