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Call to dispatchers released in controversial arrest of Gastonia Army veteran

Witnesses accused Gastonia Police of roughly arresting Army veteran Josh Rohrer while tasing his service dog, Sunshine.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County Communications have released the phone call that ultimately led to the controversial arrest of an Army veteran in Gastonia.

Gastonia Police arrested Josh Rohrer on charges of illegally begging for money and resisting arrest early Wednesday evening.

Witnesses accused officers of unnecessarily escalating the situation, in part, by tasing Rohrer’s service dog, Sunshine, after she bit an officer’s boot. 

Gastonia Police said a woman called dispatchers around 6:30 p.m. last Wednesday for a complaint regarding panhandling at the intersection of Cox Road and Gaston Mall Drive.

"Is it legal for these adults to be standing on the intersection with a dog asking for money?" the caller asked.

The dispatcher said she didn’t know whether it was legal so she offered to send a police officer.

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The caller claimed there were two people in different parts of a shopping complex, both with dogs, begging for money, one of whom would be later identified as Rohrer. 

"There has got to be something somebody can do about this," the caller said. "This is bullcrap that they're using this poor animal!" 

The caller said because Sunshine was laying on the median, she could've been hit by a car.

"How are they using the dog to get money?" the dispatcher asked.

"Okay, well that’s putting two and two together," the caller responded. "They’re using this dog to make people feel sorry for them to give them money." 

The dispatcher sent officers who ultimately arrested Rohrer.

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Protesters stood outside Gastonia Police headquarters late Monday morning to demand the department release body camera video of the arrest and help drop Rohrer’s charges. 

"We’re all out here because we’re traumatized by what we’ve seen," Justyn Huffman, who said he witnessed the arrest, explained. "It was very unnecessary." 

RELATED: 'It was really traumatizing' | Witnesses accuse Gastonia police of roughly arresting homeless veteran, tasing his service dog

Sunshine died over the weekend after Rohrer’s Veterans Affairs advocate, who was taking care of her while Rohrer was in jail, said she got loose and ran off before getting hit by a car.

Gastonia Police told WCNC Charlotte it's reviewing the incident to determine if all policies and procedures were followed by officers during the arrest.

Contact Brandon Golder at bgoldner@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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