A videotape out of Hawthorne, California (15 miles out of Los Angeles) is raising questions not only about police arresting a man for videotaping them in public but shooting the man’s dog when it comes to his aide. Warning: the arrest of Leon Rosby, 52, shown below, is a disturbing video with a graphic scene of the shooting of his dog, Max.
The video seems the latest in a long litany of arrests of citizens who exercise their constitutional right to film police in public. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue.
Rosby was arrested near a SWAT scene. Rosby was walking Max and stood to record the stand-off with armed robbers on his cell phone camera. The videotape shows officers walking by Rosby without addressing him and standing at a distance. They suddenly approach him and arrest him. When Max jumped out the window and threatens them, they shoot him on the street.
The Hawthorne Police Department issues a statement that insisted Rosby was interfering with the police: “This interference included loud, distracting music (from the individual’s vehicle), and his intentional walking within close proximity to armed officers, while holding an 80-pound Rottweiler on a long leash-line.” Yet the videotape shows Rosby walking behind the cruiser line and no tape or officers that indicated that he was within some prohibited zone. Moreover, the dog is not lunging or barking as he walks the dog.
I can understand the fear of the large Rottweiler once he charged them. However, there remains the question of the initial arrest, which seems in response to his filming them. Rosby’s lawyer insists that he was targeted because he had a prior lawsuit against the police for abuse. I do not see the evidence of the interference. Moreover, I do not see any effort to keep the area clear of pedestrians or prior instructions or warnings. He appears to be standing in a public area engaging in a protected act. Finally, loud music can be addressed by instruction a citizen to turn down the music as opposed to an immediate arrest. You can judge for yourself.
This video has been posted by some viewers who believe that Rosby was interjecting himself into the scene and disrupting the operation:
Kudos: Ed Vail