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A 3-year-old Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix was allegedly killed by a suspect in Hemet, California last week and by Friday there was a frenzied outpouring of grief across Southern California the likes of which has never been seen. Mourners who never even heard of or met the dog flocked to the makeshift memorial and held a dramatic "Law Enforcement Support Event' and a Candlelight Vigil. Local dignitaries and preachers addressed the overflow crowd. Solitication for donations were made and even a 'formal funeral' and monument planned in weeks to come. The initial vigil planned for the canine 'officer' had to swtich locations because it could not hold the capacity of people who had RSVP'd.
No vigil or press conference was held for the man police executed after he reportedly killed the dog. 36-year-old Todd Allan Hodge died at 11:27PM Wednesday night after being shot by police. It all started when police sought Hodge, a known felon, who had neglected to show up for a court date.
A sheriff's robot, battering ram, and SWAT vehicles were used in the 'standoff' which essentially consisted of a suspect hiding in a crawl space under a home on Clark Drive and San Jacinto Ave. in Hemet on Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Riverisde County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Wallace, the dog's handler, had worked with the 3 year old Shepherd mix at the San Jacinto Police dept since later 2013 and was the city's only K9 officer. Sultan was the first canine police dog ever killed in Riverside County.
Press Release: Officer Involved Shooting, Sheriff's K9 Killed
Agency: Hemet Sheriff's Station / Central Homicide Unit
Station Area: Hemet
Written Date: January 22, 2015 Time: 12:00 AM
Incident Date: January 21, 2015 Time: 2:30 PM
Incident Location: 40200 Block of Clark Drive, unincorporated area of Hemet
Reporting Officer: Deputy Albert Martinez, Public Information Officer
File Number(s): D150210037
Coroner's Release: 2015-00825
The suspect has been identified as 36-year-old Todd Hodge of Hemet, CA.
On January 21, 2015, at approximately 2:30 pm, deputies from the Hemet Sheriff's Station responded to the area of San Jacinto Street and Clark Drive in regards to a wanted felon seen in the area. Upon the deputies' arrival they received information that the suspect was last seen in a property located on the 40200 block of Clark Drive. A San Jacinto Police K9 handler and his K9 partner "Sultan" responded to assist in the search of the wanted felon.
During the search, K9 Sultan alerted to a crawl space underneath a residence. Due to the confined space K9 Sultan was sent in to determine if the suspect was hiding. Moments later an indistinguishable noise was heard and K9 Sultan returned from the crawl space with an injury to his neck. K9 Sultan was immediately transported to local veterinarian hospital where he expired.
Because the suspect refused to exit the residence and barricaded himself inside, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department SWAT Team responded. During the lengthy standoff, SWAT personnel made numerous announcements to have the suspect surrender. In an attempt to have the suspect surrender peacefully, SWAT personnel deployed tear gas. Shortly thereafter, the suspect emerged from underneath the residence armed with a handgun and a deputy involved shooting occurred.
The suspect died on scene and his name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of next of kin. No deputies were injured and per department policy the involved deputies will be placed on paid administrative leave. Investigators from the Hemet Sheriff's Station and the Riverside County Sheriff's Central Homicide Unit responded to the scene and assumed control of the investigation. This is an active investigation, and no further details will be released at this time. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Investigator Alfaro at the Riverside Sheriff's Central Homicide Unit (951) 955-2777 or Investigator Porrazzo with the Hemet Sheriff's Station (951) 791-3400.
Citizens may also submit an anonymous tip using the Sheriff's CrimeTips online form.
At a press conference Friday, Chief Deputy Geoff Raya lamented "We are all here today during a somber occasion. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has lost a dear member of our canine family. From a personal standpoint, I can tell you that when I heard this, and it surprised me, it impacted me as if I had lost a peer. There is very little differentiation ... (between) four legs and two legs. They are all members of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department." Riverside County has had a 32-year canine program with 27 dogs, 10 of whom showed up for the press conference.
Mayor Crystal Ruis said "What an amazing, amazing dog. He's made several arrests for us. He was the pride and joy of our station. It's awful, that's one of our officers that's been killed, so it's not good."
The Riverside County Sheriffs initially stated "During the search, K9 Sultan alerted to a crawl space underneath a residence. Due to the confined space K9 Sultan was sent in to determine if the suspect was hiding. Moments later an indistinguishable noise was heard and K9 Sultan returned from the crawl space with an injury to his neck. K9 Sultan was immediately transported to local veterinarian hospital where he expired." But later it was alleged that Hodge shot the dog. Police repeatedly claimed in news reports that they did not know the suspect had a gun, but as several commenters on local news stories pointed out, that does not match with reports of the incident.
The Press Enterprise reported that the police spokesman "said department policy is not to send a dog in to search if a suspect is known to be armed. Deputies did not discover that Hodge had a handgun, Raya said, until after the dog was shot and Hodge later emerged with a weapon."
Commenters on the news story had a different take. One wrote "needless to say they "the police" did know he was armed the reason being earlier that day the bail bonds tried to apprehend him and shots were fired. Therefore they knew he was armed...." Another wrote "I feel bad what happened to the dog but I feel the Sheriffs partially to blame as to what has happened to Sultan. They say that there are all the same if they have two legs or four they all work for the Sheriffs Dept. They would not send a two leg person under the house why in the hell would they send a four legged one without any protection and they had the robot there? Are they not to assume the person has a gun? To say they did not know the man was armed is crazy they were looking for the man because he violated his parole by not showing to his court hearing on several different charges and one being possession of a fire arm. The handler allowed the dog to be led to his death. Even if this person was not who he was but this dog came at me biting I would so whatever I could to get it off me kick hit, hit it and could kill it. What did they expect the guy to do? That dog did not have a choice and as far as I am concern he did not have people to speak for him especially his "Partner." Hemet does not have a surplus of money to go buy a new dog every time they Sheriffs decide to send a dog after a barracaded felon. Why was the robot just sitting in front of the house and not in use. Before any more money is put out for any dog the Sheriffs Dept needs to have some training and procedures of when and how the dog is to used."
Another commenter posted a link to the 'Dogs That Cops Killed' website, which is a disturbing trend in recent years. So it appears that police dogs deserve human treatment and adulation, but humans who aren't cops and dogs that aren't canine officers can be snuffed out by police with the slightest of provocation, or even when there is none.
The Riverside County Coroner also released info on the suspect.
Coroner's Press Releases
The Coroner's Bureau does not release the names of decedents until positive identification has been made and the next-of-kin has been notified of the death.
Coroner's File #: 2015-00825
Last Name: Hodge
First Name: Todd
Age: 36 Years
City of Residence: Hemet
Next of Kin Notified: Yes
Date of Death: 1/21/2015
Time of Death: 2327 Hours
Date of Injury: 1/21/2015
Time of Injury: 2327 Hours
Location of Death: Side Yard of a Residence 40200 Block of Clark Dr. Hemet, CA
Location of Injury: Same as Death
Agency Investigating: Riverside County Sheriff Hemet Station - Central Homicide Unit
Investigation #: D150210037
Comments: Pending investigation. Refer all inquiries to investigating agency.
He later added "A few special thanks for some of those who helped make our event such a success on such short notice. Our guest speakers: Crystal Ruiz, Mayor of San Jacinto; Dave Brown, Chief of Police for the city of Hemet; Chaplain Grace David from the Hemet/San Jacinto VFW Post 2266; Pastor Randy Jones, head pastor from the Valle Vista Assembly of God and Dee Reno and Char Weakely from the Guide Dogs of the Desert.."
The City of San Jacinto has set up a 'Sultan Fund' seeking contributions for a memorial, funeral and for a replacement for Sultan. They can be mailed to: City of San Jacinto 'Sultan Fund,' 595 S. San Jacinto Ave. San Jacinto, CA 92383. The Press Enterprise reported:
"...The Sheriff's Department called the news conference Friday, Raya said, because the department has been beseiged with inquiries about Sultan. Raya said some of the department's dogs - used for tracking people and objects and searches - are equipped with body armor. He said he does not believe Sultan was wearing a vest at the time of the Hemet search Wednesday. Department officials said the dogs are sometimes needed too quickly to don protective vests. Raya said Sultan died of a single gunshot wound to the neck and that the location of the wound was in a place that would not have been protected by a vest. He said department policy is not to send a dog in to search if a suspect is known to be armed. Deputies did not discover that Hodge had a handgun, Raya said, until after the dog was shot and Hodge later emerged with a weapon. "We are all here today during a somber occasion," Raya said. "The Riverside County Sheriff's Department has lost a dear member of our canine family. "From a personal standpoint," he said, "I can tell you that when I heard this, and it surprised me, it impacted me as if I had lost a peer. There is very little differentiation ... (between) four legs and two legs. They are all members of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department."
Sheriff's Lt. Stephen Mike, who functions as chief of police in San Jacinto under a contract with the Sheriff's Department, said he selected Sultan from a kennel when the city put up the money to buy and train a K-9 officer in 2013. "He was phenomenal," said Mike, a former dog handler. "He had made numerous finds and narcotics seizures, although he had been with the department for a relatively short time. ...Mike said he expects the city to acquire a replacement dog, although cash-strapped San Jacinto will have to rely on private donations to raise the money. Raya and Mike said the department is in the process of organizing some kind of memorial service, and possibly a monument dedicated to Sultan, other police dogs and their handlers. Mike said Wallace is taking time off to grieve for his partner
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Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise, LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened.com, Infowars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, Economic Policy Journal, TargetLiberty.com, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association, AmericanFreePress.net, RomanCatholicReport.com, WorldNetDaily, HenryMakow.com, OverdriveOnline.com, Educate-Yourself.org, TexeMarrs.com, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show, Strike-The-Root.com, Pasadena Weekly, ActivistPost.com, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640, IamtheWitness.com, Redlands Daily Facts, SaveTheMales.ca, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report, Devvy.com, Rense.com, FromTheTrenchesWorldReport.com, BeforeItsNews.com, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze, CopBlock.org, DavidIcke.com, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer, Antiwar.com, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com and DontWakeMeUp.Org.
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