Bodycam footage was recently released that shows the arrest of Joshua Rohrer and the tasing of his dog, Sunshine, that took place last October in Gastonia, North Carolina.
On Oct. 13, two officers responded to complaints about a homeless person panhandling on a raised median in a busy intersection. Gastonia city code prohibits asking for money from people in cars.
Officer Cierra Brooks was the first to arrive on scene and engage with Rohrer.
Brooks: “I just saw you take money from that car.”
Rohrer: “Yeah, you saw me take money, but you didn’t see me ask for it.”
Brooks: “It’s called panhandling.”
Rohrer: “But it’s not panhandling if I didn’t ask for it.”
Brooks: “Give me your ID or you’re going to jail for resist, delay or obstruct.
Rohrer: “There’s no city ordinance that says somebody can’t give me money.”
A second officer, Maurice Taylor III then drives up and engages Rohrer. Officer Taylor reminds Rohrer of a previous encounter the two had in which Taylor asked Rohrer not to stand on the median in traffic.
Taylor also asks for Rohrer’s identification. Rohrer produces his ID from his wallet but before he can give it to police, Taylor escalated the discussion into an arrest.
Rohrer’s dog, Sunshine, became agitated and began pacing back and forth harmlessly. Officer Taylor is heard screaming, “Call off your dog!” Sunshine then jumped on the hood of the car to check on his human.
Taylor then tased Sunshine as Brooks continued to wrestle with Rohrer.
Sunshine was taken in by a friend while Rohrer was in jail, was hit by a car and killed before Rohrer’s release.
A judge signed an order on Thursday releasing the bodycam footage to the public after Rohrer and his attorney petitioned the court to do so.
Rohrer said, “I hope that officers will learn to de-escalate and approach situations differently because this all could have been avoided if they would have just listened to me.”
Officer Taylor resigned from the police service in February but Brooks is still with the department.
The department released a statement saying:
“The city is pleased that the resolution of Mr. Rohrer’s charges includes his participation in Catawba County’s Veteran Treatment Court where he can receive services specifically tailored to his needs. The City of Gastonia Police Department’s internal review of this incident was conducted pursuant to established policy.”