March 10, 2015
According to a March 9 report by Daily Breeze, a California man has been found not guilty of dissuading a witness following the shooting of his dog.
Leon Rosby, the owner of a Rottweiler named Max who was shot by Hawthorne Police June 30, 2013, was found not guilty Monday in a jury trial. Rosby had been charged with dissuading a witness, and jurors deadlocked in his favor over whether his playing loud music at a special teams operation interfered with police duties.
Jurors leaned 8-4 in favor of Rosby being innocent of interfering with Hawthorne police Officers Jeffrey Salmons and Michael Matson, causing Judge Lauren Weis Burnstein to declare a mistrial. Rosby will have to return to court April 7 to learn whether these two charges will be retried, or whether they’ll be dismissed.
Mark Geragos, attorney for Rosby, believes the case will be dropped, saying
“The only people who were obstructing or delaying justice were the Hawthorne cops. Leon was exposing the corruption and culture of the Hawthorne Police Department, and before it was popular. He was ahead of his time.”
For those of you unfamiliar with the case involving Rosby and his dog Max, Examiner articles written at the time are referenced following this article.
The case went viral as several filmed Max being shot by officers after Rosby was ordered from the area near his car by police, and Max jumped out of a rolled down window to follow. Rosby had a pending lawsuit against Hawthorn Police Department for charges relating to violations of his civil rights.
Officers Michael Matson and Jeffrey Salmon, who were covering a robbery suspect near a house at 137th Street and Jefferson Avenue, said they ordered Rosby to turn down the volume on his car stereo. Once three robbery suspects were in custody, police made a move to arrest Rosby, who put his dog in the vehicle.
Max was protective, and jumped through the car window and ran at the officers. It was then a third officer, Chris Hoffman, attempted to grab Max by the leash, and shot the dog as he “lunged” at him.
This incident was witnessed by numerous residents, and the video soon went viral on YouTube and social media. The city received so many angry threats and comments their website crashed.
Rosby was said to have threatened two witnessed who had spoken with police a week after Max was shot, including one man who shot a video showing a more favorable version of the officers involved. One woman, Kathy Brown, told police she believed Rosby was responsible for his dogs death.
It was then Rosby was said to tell Brown and the man that “snitches die.”
Vicente Vaquerano told the same story, but Brown confessed to lying when she spoke to a Hawthorne detective and said Rosby never threatened her. Juries determined Brown wasn’t a credible witness.
Colin Lopez, a juror from Los Angeles told Daily Breeze
“It came out that because she admitted to lying, it was hard to take anything she said as being the absolute truth.”
Jurors also couldn’t determine whether Rosby knew Brown would eventually become a witness against him at a later date, and didn’t think there was enough evidence for a conviction. Although jurors felt Rosby may have interfered with police, their actions were out of line in how police handled the situation.
Lopez said most of the jurors believed Rosby caused a disturbance, but not enough to interfere with officers completing their duties.
“We all agree there was something that went down, but it was very difficult to say it was interfering with the performance of their duty,” Lopez said. “There were a bunch of us who saw them perform their duties and, yes there was a distraction, but we didn’t feel he was totally interfering.”
Rosby will still have to have another day in court over the two counts pending. He also has Geragos lined up to represent him in the civil case against the Hawthorne Police Department, which will begin in the near future.
Geragos’ reaction to the not guilty verdict, after which Rosby and jurors emotionally embraced, was
“I’m delighted for Leon.”
Leon was in tears as he thanked everyone following the verdict.
Deputy District Attorney Kerri Modder, who prosecuted the case, was on vacation Monday when the verdict came down, and was unavailable for comment.