An Oklahoma City police dog stabbed by a man who led authorities on a pursuit Sunday night died Monday, police said.
Kye, a 3-year-old German shepherd who was involved in the pursuit, suffered multiple stab wounds Sunday night and had emergency surgery. He experienced complications after surgery and died about 3:30 p.m. Monday, police said.
Kye had about two years of service with the Oklahoma City Police Department.
The man who stabbed Kye was fatally shot by the dog’s handler, Sgt. Ryan Stark. The name of the man was not released Monday. Stark, who has 13 years of service, was put on administrative leave pending the outcome of standard criminal and administrative investigations by the police department.
The incident occurred about 8:45 p.m. Sunday when police were called to a business burglary at 7233 S Air Depot Blvd. Officers saw a man drive away and pursued. Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers joined the pursuit as the driver sped southbound on Interstate 35 near Main Street in Norman, Oklahoma City police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.
Troopers used tactics to end the pursuit near the Goldsby exit on I-35, where the vehicle hit a ditch west of the highway, Nelson said.
The driver got out of his vehicle and started running south near the service road. Stark let Kye chase the driver, and Kye apprehended the driver as he ran behind a business, police said.
Stark arrived behind the business and found the man armed with a knife, stabbing Kye, police said. Stark tried to separate the man from the dog before drawing his gun and fatally shooting the man, police said.
Nelson said a police officer could not shoot a person solely for attacking a police dog, but officers are trained that they can use lethal force when they are within 21 to 25 feet of a person with a knife if the situation warrants.
Sunday’s shooting was the seventh officer-involved shooting involving Oklahoma City police this year. Four of those shootings were fatal.
From a legal standpoint, a K-9 is considered a tool that an officer uses, Nelson said. However, police officers view them as partners, he said.
Stark was featured in a February story in The Oklahoman about the Oklahoma City Police Department’s K-9 unit. He showed off some of Kye’s police skills and talked about the bonds he formed with his canine partners. Kye was Stark’s second police dog.
“Obviously, we couldn’t do the job that we do without them,” Stark told The Oklahoman in February. “They don’t show any signs of fear. They don’t care what the guy has done — whether he was armed with a gun or shot people or whatever the case — they just go in full force and take us to the problem.”
K-9 dogs live with their K-9 handlers and work together eight days in a row in 10-hour shifts, police said.
“During those eight days, I spend more time with my dog than I do with my wife or my children,” Stark said. “You rely on these dogs for everything. I rely on him to keep me alive and send me home at the end of the night.”
Police dogs face a variety of dangers on the job. In the past, dogs have been injured from falling while chasing suspects, as well as from being shot, punched, kicked and cut with a box knife, Nelson said.
Contributing: Staff Writers LeighAnne Manwarren
and Robert Medley