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law enforcement:

Police dog survives being shot after mistakenly biting an officer

Updated Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | 10:06 a.m.

Nguyen Hooker

Nguyen Hooker

A Metro Police dog entered a backyard Monday morning with a clear mission: Corner the suspect hiding out back there.

When the suspect attempted to flee, the dog stayed true to its mission and bolted over the backyard wall right behind the suspect. And that’s where the mission fell apart.

In an apparent state of confusion, the dog bit a patrol officer on the other side of the wall, prompting another officer to shoot the dog.

Police said the incident unfolded shortly after 11 a.m. Monday when a man called 911 and reported his male friend was “acting erratically with a knife” in the 200 block of Wisteria Avenue. Police said they also received reports that the man had been going door-to-door and had tried to enter at least one residence in the western valley neighborhood near Jones Boulevard and Alta Drive.

The suspect, who was possibly chasing after a roommate, ran from police when officers arrived, setting off a foot pursuit through the neighborhood, Metro spokesman Bill Cassell said. Officers caught up with the suspect, but a struggle ensued and the man fled again, he said.

The suspect broke into at least two homes in the neighborhood during the pursuit, Cassell said.

Eventually, a police helicopter located the suspect in the backyard of a residence on Upland Boulevard, a street parallel to Wisteria Avenue, Cassell said.

Upon arrival, officers called in a K-9 unit, which sent a police dog named Marco into the backyard to force the suspect to comply, Cassell said. That's when the suspect jumped the wall and ran.

The dog followed the suspect, but apparently became confused and bit a patrol officer approaching from the other side, Cassell said. The dog's K-9 handler tried to get Marco off the officer, but the dog tried to bite again, at which point another officer shot the animal, police said.

In addition to physical efforts, authorities tried to subdue the dog with a Taser before the officer resorted to using a gun, said Capt. Larry Burns of Metro’s Bolden Area Command, which covers the neighborhood where the incident happened.

The dog was taken to Metro's veterinary clinic, where it was stabilized and sent to a trauma center, Cassell said. He underwent surgery and, as of Monday evening, was in critical but stable condition, police said.

Marco, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, joined the police force in January, but his first day working as a patrol dog was April 25, police said.

Burns said the sad situation has upset all the officers, who are hoping the dog recovers.

“This dog is very athletic,” Burns said. “It scaled those big walls with no problem.”

The officer bitten suffered minor injuries and was transported to University Medical Center, Cassell said.

The suspect, identified by police as 18-year-old Nguyen Hooker, was taken into custody in the vicinity, Cassell said. Hooker was booked into the Las Vegas City Jail on counts of obstructing a police officer and resisting a police officer, officials said.

Metro will release the identities of the officers involved in the shooting within 48 hours. At that time, the department also will release the name of the injured officer.

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