Courthouse News – by MATT REYNOLDS
LOS ANGELES (CN) – After a Hawthorne police officer shot a man’s dog to death in front of him, and video of it went viral on YouTube, police falsely and maliciously charged him with six felonies, the man claims in court.
In a civil rights complaint against the city and three officers in Superior Court, Leon Rosby claims that on June 30, 2013, he was driving in his car with his 2-year-old Rottweiler, Max, when saw police responding to a residence in the Hawthorne, near L.A. International Airport.
Rosby says he already was known as a critic of the police department and was targeted by officers who “engaged in a pattern of harassing conduct” toward him. Rosby sued the city in December 2012, alleging false imprisonment and negligence, according to the Courthouse News Service database.
On June 30, Rosby says, defendants Christopher Hoffman and Jeffery Salmon stopped him “for no lawful or justifiable reason.”
He claims police arrested him after he stopped to film the officers with his cellphone. Another officer, Michael Matson, is also a named defendant.
Rosby put Max back in his car but the dog jumped out of an open window and moved toward the officers, barking, according to Los Angeles Times.
According to the lawsuit: “While Mr. Rosby was handcuffed and placed under arrest, Officer Hoffman shot Mr. Rosby’s dog multiple times in front of Mr. Rosby, killing Max. Officer Hoffman’s conduct was directed at Mr. Rosby and was intended to intimidate and harm him and to cause psychological trauma to Mr. Rosby by forcing him to watch the brutal and inhumane execution of his beloved dog, Max.”
Rosby’s video of the incident was posted to YouTube and went viral.
“The video of the Hawthorne Police Department’s outrageous and illegal conduct was downloaded millions of times and became the source of national and global attention and utter embarrassment for the Hawthorne Police Department,” the complaint states.
After the video’s release, almost 100 protesters descended on the police department, the Times reported.
In response to that unwanted attention, Rosby claims, Hawthorne cops manipulated police reports to claim that had provoked the officers, and falsely accused him of intimidating a witness who had videotaped the incident.
Relying on those reports, prosecutors charged Rosby with six felony counts and one misdemeanor count of criminal threats, obstruction of justice, and witness intimidation, according to the lawsuit.
Rosby is scheduled to appear March 14 for a preliminary hearing on those charges.
“It was devastating,” Rosby said of Max’s shooting. “His love for me was so extraordinary that he actually died for me.”
Officer Salmon was accused of participating in another attack, on a deaf man, in a lawsuit filed in the same court one week ago.
Rosby seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.