Three police officers have been receiving death threats against them and their families after shooting a dog.
On Sunday, the officers appeared in a video in which one shoots and kills the dog as they arrested its owner in Hawthorne. The video went viral online, which led to the death threats the cops are being inundated with. For their own safety, the three were pulled from street duty on Wednesday.
The threats were delivered via phone, Facebook, and in emails.
During the taped incident took place at 137th Street and Jefferson Avenue. The Rottweiler of an arrested homeowner was extremely aggressive towards one of the officers as he handcuffed its owner, Leon Rosby — in response, the officer shot and killed it. Rosby was being arrested for causing a disturbance during a two-hour police operation to arrest a robber holed up in a house.
As of Wednesday evening, the video had about 3 million views.
Hawthorne police Lt. Scott Swain said, “I understand that people have been affected by this video. Anyone would be. The police officers involved are affected by this incident and having to kill a dog. I don’t understand how it translates into an eye for an eye. ‘We are going to kill you and your family because of this incident.’ Like in my case. I wasn’t even working that night.”
Swain has been the target of some of the threats, simply for appearing in the news to talk about the incident. His phone has been ringing off the hook.
He said, “There’s a lot of calls coming in where people are calling us names and dog killers. They are entitled to their opinions and to make comments like that, but where you cross the line is when you make the threat against the safety of police officers and police officers’ family members.”
Some of the threats are so bad that they have been deemed “valid” and are currently under investigation by law enforcement agencies.
Swain continued, “There’s been death threats. You’d like to believe that maybe some of the people are just venting, but then you’ve got to be realistic — there are crazy people out there.”
Although Swain refused to get specific, he said “the department has taken actions to make sure that the officers that are receiving the deaths threats are protected and are safe.”
Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager put out a statement saying, “I wish to reassure all that this matter is being addressed in the most appropriate manner demanded and afforded. I ask for all to look no farther than into our own community for the true reality of our partnerships and efforts that we apply daily in safeguarding our citizens. The Hawthorne Police Department will be accountable to its constituents and to our actions — please allow us to fulfill such. We truly sympathize with the feelings and impact suffered by all who have witnessed this incident.”
On the Hawthorne Police Department’s Facebook page, thousands of people have posted angry and threatening messages regarding the dog shooting. Such messages have even been posted on photos that show officers reading to children and talking to senior citizens. Before the dog incident, the Facebook page served primarily as a place for police to offer crime prevention tips.
On Facebook user, Matthew Metcalf, wrote, “I hope the officer is proud of himself. I hope he has crying children at home wondering why they have such an evil father. And I hope the rest of his family disowns him. He deserves no better than a life of shame, poverty and hatred from everyone. You have single handled disgusted the entire country!”
One old post on the page honored police Officer Andrew Garton ,who was killed two years ago in a motorcycle crash. The post became littered with nasty comments.
Another, Eric Beasley, wrote, “Better to have served honorable and died early, than to have been part of a department so full of greed and corruption. Enjoy your time in Heaven, Officer Garton.
Daniel Drobish wrote, “If your boys like playing with their guns so much, we should ship THEM over to Afghanistan. Then GOOD men and women won’t have to die!”
On an old post about the “Coffee with a Cop” program, Facebook user Keith McMahon wrote, “Throw the hot coffee in their faces!!!” He then posted a second comment that said, “I’ll have coffee with ya! I’ll poison you so you die a slow painful death … !”
Debra Smith wrote, “I will have coffee with these cops, if the coffee is heated to boiling and I can pour it on their trigger fingers.”