Another Police Dog Dies in South Carolina Arrest

( – A South Carolina police dog was killed last Thursday while chasing after a suspected car thief, marking the second time in less than a month a South Carlina K9 officer was killed in the line of duty.

According to a June 20 news release from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, K9 officer Wick was struck by a vehicle while pursuing a suspect in the early hours of last Thursday morning.

Deputies initiated a traffic stop at 1:00 a.m. on June 20 after spotting a stolen van being driven on Windsor Lake Blvd. The driver of the vehicle refused to pull over and deputies pursued the vehicle onto Interstate 77.

After deputies deployed “stop sticks” on the road disabling the vehicle, the driver fled on foot with a K9 Specialist deputy and Wick in pursuit. Wick’s leash broke after jumping over a barrier to pursue the suspect on the northbound lanes of I-77 and he was struck by a vehicle and died at the scene, the sheriff’s department said.

According to the statement, the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois had worked with the sheriff’s department for 18 months.

The suspect evaded capture.

The sheriff’s department later released photos of the man believed to be the suspect who stole the van.

Wick’s body, draped in an American flag, was transported from a veterinary hospital to a funeral home last Thursday morning while dozens of sheriff’s deputies, including other K9 Specialists and their dogs, stood at attention in a procession.

Just nine days earlier, State Law Enforcement Division K9 officer, Coba, was shot and killed in Newberry County as officers attempted to arrest a suspected burglar. The suspect was wounded when officers returned fire.

The suspect, James Robert Peterson, 37, was charged last Friday on multiple counts, including cruelty to a police dog, resisting arrest with a deadly weapon, and several firearms charges.

South Carolina, along with at least five other states, introduced legislation this year to impose harsher penalties on those who injure or kill K9 officers.

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