A deconstruction of the Hawthorne PD dog-shooting and the danger of cops with pretty hair

The viral video of the Hawthorne police officer shooting the Rottweiler needs to be reduced.

All the superfluous crap and chatter needs to be sieved out. This is the problem with inflammatory situations like this. Emotions and “unreason” dictate the arguments because the adjacent layers built into the prelude to the incident take a psychic toll on those watching. As perceiving humans we lose the ability to examine life on purely analytic terms. Personal agendas trample all over reason. Incidents of police “misbehavior” are extremely susceptible to this Observer Distortion.

After watching the Hawthorne incident a few times, I decided it would be useful to trim out the segment right before the dog shooting. This clip lasts about a minute but I think it sums up the cascading chain of mutual strategic disasters which led to the dog’s death. This whole thing is about the death of a dog, really. Forget the human abuse, no one cares about that.

I believe three parties were directly responsible for the dog’s death, but rather than allocate blame equally among them (33 1/3% for each), I believe blame can be shouldered by some, more than others, and this is my video deconstruction of the incident.

Here is my abbreviated clip:

My observations about the players in this drama:

Actor 1 (Now identified as Leon Rosby): The black man. Owner of the dog (“Max”) and videographer. Pragmatism and principles rarely intersect, and if they do, it is not for very long before someone gets hurt.

The owner of the Rottweiler looks to be mid-30s, not a “hardcore” gangsta by any stretch of the imagination. He used this opportunity to voice his frustrations with policing and pushed his rights to the limit. He didn’t break any laws. He never crossed physical boundaries so he did not intrude in the paramilitary operation. It’s perfectly legal to film as he did and from the distance he did.

(NOTE: This is actually called into question now. In some states, it is illegal to take videos of police. I’m not convinced because it is so outlandish. Actually, since it is outlandish and it concerns police, it might be true. In which case, this is a bigger story to be tackled…)

The music in his late-model economy car (chronic trouble-makers don’t drive new sedate cars) is chill R&B. He is only guilty of acting out in a silly manner for the sake of acting out. This police operation doesn’t even appear to be noteworthy. They are storming a house. Believe it or not, this happens all the time. 99.9% of the time such incidents unfold in very mundane manners. His filming and mouthing off, while blustery, was hardly criminal.

His motivations seem sociopolitical and this is not a crime nor is it grounds to be detained. At least in a free country.

Here is his narrative which just hit the “cyberwaves.”

I estimate his Culpability Factor in the dog’s death at 7%.

Actor 2: The two white cops who stand on the sidewalk, across the street from the tactical operation. They are both armed with rifles and had just left the scene. They were the focus of most of Rosby’s “abuse.” At first, they appear to ignore, or at least disregard, his behavior. From a police, profiling perspective, he is not a serious or urgent threat by nature of his dress, his behavior, his automobile, and the fact he had a dog which appeared well-maintained, on a leash.

Still, they both made a decision, especially spearheaded by the shorter, chunky cop, to engage Rosby. In fact, it appears that this cop worked to convince the other to do so, and once he did so, they both approached Rosby after he put his dog back in the car. Any reason to detain him was contrived. Rosby did not appear inebriated or high. There was no reason to suspect he was guilty of anything other than being a loudmouth. The policemen’s decision to detain Rosby is dubious, at best. I’d love to hear their side of the story.

I estimate their Culpability Factor in the dog’s death at 42%.

Actor 3: Hawthorne police officer X (On edit, whether this officer is indeed X as reported widely has been called into question by a commenter).

Apparently, his identity remains Jeffrey Salmon. The anonymous commenter was trying to quash Google crawlers.

Leaving the operation, he headed to his cruiser just in time for Rosby’s dog to jump out the open car window. The situation was already “in control” of the two officers who were detaining Rosby, but still, X jumped into super hero mode.


Essentially, this officer was a busybody and intruded into a situation he should have initially left alone.

Hawthorne police officer, Jeffrey Salmon

In fact, I’m willing to conjecture that Jeffrey Salmon’s decision to join the fray might have been the primal trigger that caused Max to jump out the car. The moment he jumped out, he drew his gun with a gusto, but the two detaining cops were wiser and did something very smart. They pushed Rosby into the path of the charging dog. This was a brilliant move. Rosby, the owner, but handcuffed…and it worked, at first. Max was done attacking.

Until Jeffrey Salmon decided to pursue this with his pathetic Dog Whisperer act. Gun in hand, he kept approaching Max, who by this point had stopped charging. A barking, stationary dog is stable. You can work with that. You only run or shoot if the dog it physically attacking and charging you. But Max was not moving, not with his owner being used as a “human shield” but he insisted on provoking Max by approaching the dog and eliciting aggression. If he had just stayed put, the situation might have eventually diffused itself. Perhaps someone could have taken possession of the leash.

Maybe not. Maybe this debacle never would have resolved itself, but he never gave it a chance. He provoked Max and then fired.

He was ready to fire long beforehand. This dude wanted to kill. He never had any intention of letting the 2 officers control the situation.

I estimate his Culpability Factor in the dog’s death at 51%. I’m inclined to knock it down a little because he maintained his hairstyle throughout the incident, but the chickenshit, dog-ignorant behavior wipes it all away!