A Butler County Sheriff deputy and his K-9 partner walked away with minor injuries after a struggle with a man at a Lemon Twp. Tuesday afternoon.
The man is in an area hospital charged with assault on a police officer after the incident about 3:45 p.m. at Speedway on Oxford State and Main Street.
The deputy, James Davenport, responded to the busy store for a report of a man running around barefoot in the parking lot, screaming and possibly on drugs or having a mental issue, according to Sgt. Jason Rosser.
When asked if he had any weapons on him, the man pulled a knife out of his pocket and threw it at the deputy, officials said.
“At that time the deputy wanted to detain him for his own safety and the safety of those around him,” Rosser said.
The deputy attempted to handcuff the man and “he went completely ballistic. He started to bite the deputy,” Rosser said.
The deputy struggled on the ground with the man until he was able to get one handcuff on.
“He (the suspect) tried to barrel roll the deputy, and the deputy was able to deploy his K-9 from his vehicle while he was struggling with the individual,” Rosser said. “He was able to release the door so the K-9 was able to come and assist the deputy.”
The dog, Radi, bit the suspect, who kicked the K-9 in the head, according to the sheriff’s office.
Radi, who was contained in the back of the cruiser, was trained to come to the aid of his handler once the door was opened automatically.
“They have a device the activates the door to open,” said Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.
He noted handlers usually do not take the K-9 out of the cruiser on a routine call. Despite a busy parking lot, the dog is trained to deal with the threat to the handler and the situation, so possible danger to others is minimal.
The sheriff’s office has four police dogs that are cross trained, all for patrol with a specialization in drug or bomb sniffing.
“The are a good tool in our arsenal,” Dwyer said. “Sometimes just getting the dog out on a lead for them the hear the barking is enough to get compliance.”
Rosser said neither the officer nor the dog had to seek extra medical help after an initial assessment of some minor injuries.
The suspect, Jessie Dennis, 40, was issued a citation for assault of a police dog, and more charges could come later, sheriff’s officials said.