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Man whose dog was killed by police charged with intimidating witness

August 13, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein | This post has been updated. Please see note below.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged the owner of a Rottweiler that was fatally shot by Hawthorne police with a half-dozen felony counts for allegedly threatening a witness who recorded the incident.

Leon Cordell Rosby, 52, faces two counts each of felony dissuading a witness from prosecuting a crime, intimidating a witness and making criminal threats and one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said.

Rosby was expected to surrender Tuesday morning at the Airport Courthouse. Prosecutors were planning to ask ask for $310,000 bail. 

If convicted, Rosby faces up to five years in state prison.

Rosby was the subject of international media attention after a YouTube video was posted showing Hawthorne police fatally shooting his 3-year-old Rottweiler. The video went viral and resulted in a cascade of criticism against the Hawthorne Police Department and even physical threats against the officer who shot the canine.

Days later, Hawthorne police released a second video taken by a second witness at the scene that showed additional footage of the moments leading up to the shooting.

Prosecutors allege Rosby went to the witness' residence and verbally confronted the woman who took the video and her son. Authorities did not immediately disclose the nature of the threats.

[Updated at 1 p.m., Aug. 13: Rosby's attorney, Mark Geragos, called the charges "one of the biggest perversions of the criminal justice system" he had ever seen.

"They executed his dog. They broke his ribs a year ago [during an arrest]. They manufactured felonies against my client," Geragos said.]

Rosby's dog was shot June 30 during a standoff between police and armed robbery suspects near the intersection of 137th Street and Jefferson Avenue. Police said Rosby walked close to the scene with his 80-pound Rottweiler on a “long leash-line," creating “an increasingly dangerous situation.”

“I got out of the vehicle with my dog and took some video with my phone to make sure their civil rights weren’t being violated,” Rosby said.

At the time of the incident, Rosby, a licensed contractor and former basketball coach, told The Times he recognized one of the two officers at the scene as one of the defendants in his March 2013 complaint filed against the city of Hawthorne. Rosby alleges that the officer, along with several others, assaulted and brutalized him in July 2012.

Rosby said officers accused him of resisting even though he was handcuffed.

“I hollered out to the crowd, ‘No, I’m not,’ ” said Rosby, explaining that more than 75 people were standing nearby, some also shooting  video.

Max then jumped out of the car through an open window, Rosby said.

“At that point, I said, ‘No, Max, no!’ ” Rosby said.

A third officer came onto the scene, tried to grab the dog’s leash, then fired four shots at the Rottweiler.

“It was devastating,” Rosby said. “His love for me was so extraordinary that he actually died for me.”

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Twitter: @anblanx

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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