KOMO 4 News reported today that a car thief evading arrest attempted to drown a police dog in a creek on Thursday, June 26. According to charges filed with Pierce County Superior Court, the car thief already had more than one dozen convictions prior to his attack on the K9. Charging documents noted that a Lakewood, Wash. Police officer was at a red light when a vehicle accelerated to speeds in excess of 55 mph once the light turned green.
According to charging documents, the officer pursued the car, which ran through several red lights, driving into oncoming traffic and reaching 80 mph, despite the officer's commands for the driver to pull over. The driver, who was later identified as Martonio Ramsey, 25, hit a curb on 112th Street South near Gravelly Lake Drive, rolling his vehicle over. Charging documents state that while Ramsey dragged himself from the wrecked vehicle, he refused orders to get onto the ground, instead running off with a police dog in hot pursuit.
The police dog tracked Ramsey to a fish ladder near a creek, where Ramsey ran into waist-deep water and allegedly grabbed the police dog's neck, pushing the dog's head under water. According to charging documents, Ramsey was attempting to drown the police dog, but officers rescued the K9 and arrested Ramsey.
The K9 and one officer began to struggle to keep their heads above the water and were rescued by other police officers. Charging documents stated that one day earlier, a dealership had reported a stolen red Dodge Charger - the same vehicle that Ramsey was driving.
Ramsey received multiple charges, including harming a police dog, attempting to elude police, obstructing a law enforcement officer, and possessing stolen property in addition to his 13 previous convictions, which include eluding police and car theft.
In the State of Washington, harming a police dog is a Class C Felony:
RCW 9a.76.200: Harming a police dog, accelerant detection dog, or police horse:
(1) A person is guilty of harming a police dog, accelerant detection dog, or police horse, if he or she maliciously injures, disables, shoots, or kills by any means any dog or horse that the person knows or has reason to know to be a police dog or accelerant detection dog, as defined in RCW 4.24.410, or police horse, as defined in subsection (2) of this section, whether or not the dog or horse is actually engaged in police or accelerant detection work at the time of the injury.
(3) Harming a police dog, accelerant detection dog, or police horse is a class C felony.
(4)(a) In addition to the criminal penalty provided in this section for harming a police dog:
(i) The court may impose a civil penalty of up to five thousand dollars for harming a police dog.
(ii) The court shall impose a civil penalty of at least five thousand dollars and may increase the penalty up to a maximum of ten thousand dollars for killing a police dog.
Lakewood, Wash. has historically faced higher than average property and violent crime rates. With the Lakewood Police Department beginning full operations on November 1, 2004, the city has seen a violent crime reduction of more than 45% and overall crime rate reduction of 24%.
The City of Lakewood Police Department's K9 units support their Patrol Response Units, which are comprised of uniformed officers who are on duty 24/7. It is unclear at this time which K9 was involved with the incident with Ramsey, but K9s Ranger and Koda were recently in the news for their receipt of new protective gear.
In April of 2014, the Lakewood Police Department received an award of protective vests for their police K9s. A non-profit organization raised more than $6300 to provide Washington State's K9s with protective vests. Police K9s Ranger and Koda received bullet- and stab-proof vests due to the efforts of Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a Massachusetts-based non-profit that raised more than $6300.
Other recipients of the vests included K9s Ghost and Kato of Kent, Wash.; and K9s Ayk and Gunner from the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office.
Updates to this story will be posted as they occur.