BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — There was one witness left to take the stand when the proceedings came to an abrupt halt in Friday’s preliminary hearing for a woman accused of dragging a small dog behind her while riding an electric scooter.
Court staff said they had received notice to close the courthouse 90 minutes early because of a planned protest in downtown Bakersfield in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
Floyd’s death has sparked rioting in Minneapolis and large protests in a number of cities across the country, and multiple downtown offices closed early Friday as a precaution.
Judge Thomas S. Clark said the hearing in the case of Elaine Rosa will continue Tuesday with a defense witness taking the stand. The prosecution called all its witnesses during the roughly four-hour proceedings on Friday.
Multiple prosecution witnesses testified they saw Rosa drag the dog as she rode a Bird scooter in downtown Bakersfield on Jan. 6, 2019. It’s alleged the scooter she rode could reach speeds of 15 mph.
The incident — portions of which were captured on surveillance video — provoked outrage over the animal’s treatment and resulted in hundreds of people taking to social media and calling for Rosa’s arrest.
She was taken into custody more than a month after the incident and is free on $10,000 bond.
The dog, named Zebra, received medical treatment, including staples in its left leg. It has recovered and did not sustain permanent injury.
Witnesses reported seeing blood on the dog when Rosa stopped the scooter and picked up the animal. One witness reported the dog had “raw and red” paws.
A couple out riding bikes testified they saw Rosa go by on the scooter with something being dragged behind it. They weren’t sure what the object was, but followed Rosa and yelled at her to stop.
Brandon Sanders said he and his girlfriend, Pipra Stewart, caught up with Rosa when she eventually stopped, and they saw the object that had been dragged was a dog that was now lying motionless, according to court testimony. Rosa left the scooter, picked up the animal and started walking away as the couple questioned her.
The confrontation became heated as Sanders continued to follow and question Rosa. She didn’t say anything at first, but then insulted him, according to testimony. He said Rosa asked him how much he made and that he probably had “low intelligence” and worked in oil fields.
Sanders testified he asked her what had happened and what she was thinking, and Rosa responded, “(Expletive) happens, just like with kids.”
Stewart testified Rosa did not harm the dog after picking it up. She said Rosa cradled the animal as she walked to her apartment.
If the hearing finishes on Tuesday as expected, the judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to order Rosa to stand trial on the felony animal cruelty charge and misdemeanor failing to provide animal care charge filed against her.
Rosa, 39 at the time, worked as a contracted psychologist at Kern Valley State Prison. Her contract was terminated a day after the incident.