Cops Shoot Dog On Camera

This video has been getting a lot of views and discussion:

It is part of a trend of 'citizen surveillance' where people record video of the police. This is one of the most difficult cases I have seen, because even with the video one can make arguments both ways.

On the one hand, they shot a dog, which is pretty bad. On the other hand, it was a rottweiler that was lunging forward, defending its owner. The owner, knowing the police were coming for him, put the dog in his car but left the windows down. However, the dog owner was being arrested for either obstruction (yelling at the officers at a crime scene) or playing his music too loud, which are too terribly serious offenses.

What do you think? Who's right? Either way, grey area, highly publicized cases like this are going to become more prominent with mobile phone video recording.

“Crowd sourcing” of video information is here to stay so everybody had better get used to it and act accordingly. The courts will have to decide what is admissible relative to the situation. This is not a new issue but it is now ubiquitous with everyone having a video camera at their finger tips. This makes the distribution of security video cameras throughout the community less of an issue it seems to me since everyone can shoot video at will.

This makes the distribution of security video cameras throughout the community less of an issue it seems to me since everyone can shoot video at will.

+1 - I wonder if this eventually puts some downward pressure on the deployment of city surveillance cameras.

On the point about admissibility, I cannot see why such video would be admissible. Unless there's some proof of tampering (which would be quite rare), it should be just as admissible as any other video clip taken from a security camera.

Anything can be evidence if admitted by the court. I don't see where the admission of a video taken by a private citizen would be a problem if it was presented to the court by one of the parties. This is where judges come into play as to what has relevancy to the case being tried and the rules of evidence.

As for grey area, this is the color of the real world, not what citizens hope for when reading or seeing such things. Video tells a story from the perspective or FoV of the recording camera just like any human who may be witness to a crime. I have seen many videos that paint a true picture and others that only portray a small portion of what has taken place. All things need to be taken in context.

Law enforcement is utilizing video to a greater extent with dash cams and body worn cams and is also well aware of the video taken by the public with the cell phone. This is a good thing on both accounts but must be taken in context with all evidence submitted to a court. Accountability of the public employee is a good thing in all respects and video is now a very commen way to document things for a trier of fact to consider at trial. Many things end up on YouTube these days and law enforcement is well aware of this. Sometimes we check to see what is out there that might be of benefit to a case in our jurisdiction or as part of the Internal Affairs review process.

I have not seen any community push back regarding public surveillance cameras due to incidents of this nature. If anything, this leads to a greater reporting of suspected misconduct and the publics pushing for more in car or body cameras without mention of the City camera systems. The two seem to be two separate animals in the publics eye from what I have seen.

What are your follow on thoughts John?

I may be the odd one out here, but this seemed like excessive force to me, couldn't they have removed the threat by using pepper spray or a baton, or something else? The officer shot the dog multiple times, it seemed to me like he wanted him dead.

I don't know the whole story, but this guy that was walking his dog was recording the officers' actions, and made it quite obvious, probably trying to annoy them and put them on notice - cops don't like that. What did he do exactly to get handcuffed?? loud music and recording them? this is a free country- it did not look like obstruction of justice nor was he the only one recording them.

The officer doesn't shoot the dog until it lunged at him. The officer was well withing his rights to protect himself by any means necessary.

If it would have been a person lunging at him, would he have used a gun as the first option too? what about a Taser? I watched the video in slow motion, and you can see the dog step back and then the officer reach for the leash/collar at which point the dog leaped forward again.

Another option would have been to uncuff the person, isolate the dog first via the owner's help (calling animal control) and then proceeding with the arrest. Was the owner that much of a threat? he didn't resist and in fact moved towards the officers after he put away the dog (he probably didn't roll the windows up thinking he wasn't going to be arrested as he muttered on video).

You are making assumptions that the officer had a taser, the taser would have been effective on the Rottweiler, the suspect was not dangerous or would not have tried something had he been uncuffed.

LE is trained not to make those assumptions or they end up injured or dead. In my opinion the officer's response is not questionable because he tried to restrain the dog and the animal showed aggression towards him.

There is no difference if it is a human with a knife or club, if an officer feels in mortal danger he is authorized to use whatever he deems necessary to protect him/herself

If you are looking to blame someone for this unfortunate incident, that blame is best directed at the dogs owner. With 4 squad cars parked there and him surrendering, we viewers know he expects to be arrested. His options prior to being arrested would include insuring the safety of his animal be securing it inside his residence, tying it to a stationary object or rolling the windows of his vehicle up so dog would not jump out.

Sarit, while I think Scott's (original) comment is a slightly narrow way to look at the entire situation that went down, police officers are 'trained' to protect themselves first and foremost. Anything short of immediate compliance by citizens puts those same citizens in extreme jeopardy and/or risking their very lives.

I am actually pro-LE - but I am vehemently opposed to the 'militarization' of police forces over the last decade+ that we all used to call 'peace officers'. Military-style tactical training will always produce military-style police responses - at the peril of many additional innocent people.

If a police officer fires their weapon, based on their training, they are shooting to kill. And, because they are protected by 'following training' when they kill someone in situations that most average citizens might see as a murder, they are generally found 'not at fault' during incident review boards.

One of my favorite quotes applies here:

"All seems infected that the infected spy, As all looks yellow to the jaundiced eye." - Alexander Pope

if POs see the average citizen as a citizen and not an enemy combatant, I imagine they would be less inclined to kill them. :(

I can make an argument for both, sure. Claiming the officer's life was in danger would be an easy one to make from officer's view and making decisions in hind sight are always easier for all involved. However, here are a few things I considered:

1. You can already ascertain the owner was not a threat- he approached the officers himself and did not resist at all.

2. No attempt was made at all with any other neutralizing options to determine whether they were effective or not.

3. The officers needed to neutralize the dog either before or after arresting the owner because arresting the owner and leaving a loose dog in a car is not protecting the public, they chose the wrong order.

4. Being a police officer requires the ability to make split second decisions and they are often judged either way, I get that. However, the best decision was not made or other options not attempted in my opinion, that's all. He went from 0-120 instead of trying other options.

Several other questions are: is this guy hotheaded? does he have a record of using excessive force? is he especially afraid of dogs? were the police officers annoyed and familiar with the owner, hence the quick arrest and no warning first?

Marty, well put and received. I would never taunt the PO as that owner did, so I can certainly see both sides, but I expected the PO to have a level head in this case and control the situation individually, and as a team.

As for causal culpability, the dog owner is clearly (imo) the heavy.... but I also lay a lot of the blame on the porky cop on the sidewalk. He let the dog owners words completely blind him with what I call 'non-compliance rage'. I'm sure he told the dog owner to stfu more than once, but you can see in the exchange that he first starts storming down the sidewalk, but stops. why? who knows - maybe his partner, the non-porky cop, tried to talk some professionalism into him.

Well, that only lasts until the next verbal barrage by the dog owner and you can see he comes charging anew (soon followed quickly by his partner). Watch the porky cops eyes - he is pissed and is intent on showing the dog owner who's boss.

Note that he sees the dog-owner putting the dog into the car before the confrontation, yet porky almost completely ignores the car/dog as he is 'teaching the dude what non-compliance to his orders gets him". The dog starts barking as soon as they cuff the dude - porky glances at it after it barks. He shouldve easily seen that the window could not contain the dog if the dog really wanted out...

He THEN charges over to the dude with his AR-15 and cross checks him backwards after he is already cuffed.

THAT is what got the dog to come out of the car. After that it is already too late.

imo, porky - not the cop who shot the dog - shoulders most all of the LE portion of the blame pie. He was virtually unaware of what appears to be an obvious personal/public safety concern. (i.e. snarling big ass dog/halfway open window)

He also was the one who took it from some dude yelling insults at the cops, to a dog being dead. He grows a thicker skin, with a dash of understanding of why the dude is yelling insults, and nothing dies that night.

Saw this timely Salon article tweeted today (it's long, but well-written): "Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book": The new warrior cop is out of control.

In this article - which is excerpted from Radley Balko's book, "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces the author discusses how many animals get shot and killed each year by police - primarily because very few police departments train their officers on interacting with dogs - though almost all postal workers receive this training despite the fact that the incidents of dog bites suffered by postal workers are statistically insignificant.

"The fact that the Postal Service offers such training and most police departments don’t lends some credence to the theory that dog shootings are part of the larger problem of a battlefield mentality that lets police use lethal force in response to the slightest threat—usually with few consequences." (italics added)

Yes, that comparison to postal workers is a good one. I hope that police departments understand and use this incident as a learning opportunity to identify gaps in training rather than immediately make excuses as to why/what and equip their personnel with what they need to make good decisions whether it is weapons or training to avoid this tragedy. I don't only think of the dog itself, but of the countless eye witnesses to this violence.

Btw- I did some research on that owner and that guy is bad news. He filed 6 complaints against that police department and makes it his mission to "catch them" in mistreatment and racial profiling. However, that police gave him what he wanted -to some degree- due to their hot head and egoism.

Here is a page with some background on the dog owners issues with the Hawthorne cops, and subsequent activity since the shooting - including Anonymous hitting the Hawthorne PD with a sustained DDoS attack since July 1st

Hawthorne Dog Police Shooting (I didn't write the page title) :)