Public outrage over the fatal police shooting of a dog in Hawthorne continued to reverberate Tuesday.
The regularly scheduled Hawthorne City Council meeting was canceled Tuesday night because the city's website remained offline, a full week after it initially crashed from the large volume of visitors. Thousands of people from around the world sought to express their opinion on the officer's decision to shoot a Rottweiler as it lunged toward him during the June 30 arrest of the dog's owner.
The shooting was caught on camera and the video went viral as millions of people worldwide watched it online and reacted to the violence. The council meeting was canceled because the agenda and a video of the proceedings could not be posted online.
City officials said the website is expected to be back online soon after they find a new host that can ensure large amounts of web traffic won't cause it to shut down again. City Hall employees began answering phone calls again this week, after the flood of vitriolic callers prompted many employees to let calls go to voicemail.
"It was horrible," said one city employee, who asked to remain anonymous. "They were just calling to insult us. I don't understand why we were targeted. It's just been out of control."
Much of the public response involved angry threats against city officials and police officers. Three officers and their families have been temporarily moved out of their homes and given 24-hour protection because of death threats.
An online petition seeking prosecution of the officer who shot the 2-year-old dog named Max had more than 98,000 supporters by late Tuesday. It claims that Max's owner, Leon Rosby, was illegally arrested and that the officer shot the dog unjustly.
The department reported receiving 10,000 emails on the issue.
"I just tried calling these cowardly pricks to ask what they intend to do about the dogslayer," one person wrote on the department's Facebook Web page. "They hung up on me. Go figure. Keep calling until the man is fired."
Mayor Danny Juarez said his family unplugged its home phone at night because of the incessant calls and threats.
"My phone is burning up, it's unbelievable," Juarez said. "My family is overwhelmed. They're tired of this. But people keep calling. We're getting calls at 3 a.m. and they just want to vent on the phone."
Juarez has reserved comment on the shooting until a police investigation into the matter is completed.
Meanwhile, police officials released a second video of the lead-up to the shooting that shows Rosby arguing with officers, and one officer trying to take Max's leash before the dog lunges and he shoots.
Rosby is shown parking and getting out of a black car with Max, whom he held close to him by a leash as he confronted officers in the midst of an operation involving an armed robbery suspect who was barricaded inside a home near 137th Street and Jefferson Avenue.
As an officer using a loudspeaker tells the robbery suspect to come out of the house, Rosby walks up to the scene while music is playing loudly in his parked car. An officer tells him to move his car away.
"My car is OK," Rosby responds. "And I can stay here and watch. I'm gonna stay here and watch. You wanna take me? OK. For what? Y'all be breaking the law."
The video cuts to officers patting down Rosby after he is handcuffed. Rosby had put Max in his car, but the dog jumps through an open window and approaches officers, barking.
"Get in the car," Rosby yells at Max. "Do not shoot my dog! Somebody get my dog!"
An officer reaches out a hand to attempt to take Max's leash before the dog lunged at the officer, who then shot him four times.
Hawthorne Police Department spokesman Scott Swain said it is routine procedure for an officer to fire several shots when using deadly force, rather than only one shot. In this incident, a gun was used because the officer already had it in hand when the dog seemed to attack him, Swain said.
"Deadly force is your last resort," Swain said. "You're trying to eliminate the threat. We're not trained to shoot to injure. We're trained to shoot to eliminate threats. It's very infrequent, on the shooting range, that we shoot only one time."
Swain stressed that the video shows the officer attempting to corral the dog before Max lunges at him.
"The officer used restraint," Swain said. "He had a gun in his hand because he identified a threat. It wasn't until the dog lunges up at the officer that he shoots."
Swain said that Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager may ask an outside agency to investigate the officer's shooting of the dog because of the public outcry.
Investigators intend to seek charges of obstructing police business, Swain said.
Juarez said callers told him a Monday evening traffic collision that killed Hawthorne police Sgt. Leonard Luna was retribution for Max's shooting.
"There's just a lot of people out there who just don't understand," Juarez said. "It's mind-boggling. I got a call this morning from Florida and they said (Luna's death) is 'an eye for an eye.' For them to connect the two is outrageous.
"But the response I'm getting from people I run into at the store or at a meeting or in the soccer field is that they support our Police Department 100 percent."
Staff writer Kristin S. Agostoni contributed to this article.