Slain police dog to receive full police honors in memorial

Video from NBC-2


 Name: AMAYA, GILBERTO
 Charge: CRIMES AGAINST A PERSON SPECIFICALLY A FELONY COMMITTING AN ACT THAT COULD CAUSE DEATH; FLEEING/ELUDING A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WITH LIGHTS AND SIRENS ACTIVATED; HOMICIDE-WILLFULLY KILLING MURDER, NON-PREMEDITATED, DURING A SPECIFIC FELONY; CAUSING GREAT HARM OR DEATH TO A POLICE ANIMAL; CRIMINAL ATTEMPT TO SOLICIT OR CONSPIRING A FIRST-DEGREE FELONY; ROBBERY WITH A FIREARM; 
 Residence: LEHIGH ACRES
 Age: 30

LCSO


  • Name: AMAYA, GILBERTO
  • Charge: CRIMES AGAINST A PERSON SPECIFICALLY A FELONY COMMITTING AN ACT THAT COULD CAUSE DEATH; FLEEING/ELUDING A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WITH LIGHTS AND SIRENS ACTIVATED; HOMICIDE-WILLFULLY KILLING MURDER, NON-PREMEDITATED, DURING A SPECIFIC FELONY; CAUSING GREAT HARM OR DEATH TO A POLICE ANIMAL; CRIMINAL ATTEMPT TO SOLICIT OR CONSPIRING A FIRST-DEGREE FELONY; ROBBERY WITH A FIREARM;
  • Residence: LEHIGH ACRES
  • Age: 30

In an echo of the funeral for slain Fort Myers Police Officer Andrew Widman, Lee County law enforcers will gather Thursday to bid farewell to a partner gunned down in the line of duty.

This partner is a little different than most, however.

Rosco, a 4-year-old German Shepherd trained in narcotics and fugitive apprehension died of his wounds last week after he was shot by an armed suspect multiple times.

Officers shot and killed the teenage suspect during the chase.

Fort Myers Police Chief Doug Baker says Rosco deserves an honor commensurate with a fallen police officer.

“This isn’t a dog that died of old age or maybe unfortunate disease,” Baker said. “This dog got shot and killed by an armed robber. In my mind, it raises the bar.”

Suspect Kamyn Jodeci William Bright, 17, was fatally shot along Metro Parkway. Police say Bright and another man, Gilberto Amaya, 30, had just robbed a Colonial Boulevard McDonald’s at gunpoint when Rosco and his partner, officer Glenn Thompson, responded to the scene.

As the suspects scattered, Rosco and Thompson gave chase to Bright, whom officers say opened fire at his pursuers. Meanwhile, Amaya struck another police dog during an attempted escape in a van. That dog, 9-year-old Axe (pronounced “ox”) is recovering from his injuries, the agency reports.

Thompson, and possibly another officer, fired at Bright, killing him; other officers pursued Amaya, eventually arresting him in Lehigh Acres.

Officers also arrested a third suspect, Leandro Fermin, 21, a McDonald’s employee whom detectives say left a back door open for the robbers in exchange for $300.

Investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the shooting of Bright, agency spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said. Thompson and the other officer, whose name has not been released, will remain on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is concluded, she said.

Thursday, Rosco will be given full police honors at a ceremony to be held at McGregor Baptist Church. The service will include a color guard, a video about Rosco and speakers. Outside, officers will perform a 21-gun-salute, play taps and present a flag to Thompson, who kept and cared for Rosco. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will perform a helicopter fly-over.

Rosco was cremated and will not be buried, Flynn said. Fort Myers Police officers and Lee County Sheriff’s deputies are expected to attend the hour-long service.

McGregor Baptist Church is providing free use of its sanctuary, and Rosco’s cremation and urn were also donated, Flynn said.

Plans for the service resemble the funeral for rookie officer Widman, 30, who was shot and killed in July 2008 as he intervened in a domestic dispute in downtown Fort Myers.

Widman’s funeral was also held at McGregor Baptist Church, and he received full honors that included a color guard, the playing of taps and the presentation of a flag to his widow, Susanna. A lengthy procession of police cruisers guided Widman’s hearse to the burial ground, and citizens lined the road to pay respects.

Baker says Rosco deserves a similar send-off, and he’s reluctant to draw distinctions between his police dogs and police officers. Both show courage and self sacrifice, he said.

Rosco also represented a costly investment. One of six police dogs at the agency, he was imported from Europe at a cost of $7,500, untrained. The state requires 400 hours for basic training for police dogs and a 200-hour drug course. All dogs are required to pass annual tests in obedience, apprehension, handler protection, building and area searches and tracking, according to the Fort Myers Police Department.

Although the cash-strapped agency isn’t paying for the ceremony, Baker says he was willing.

“If I had to pay, I would pay,” he said. “That dog deserves it, in my opinion.”

Amaya and Fermin were arrested on charges of armed robbery and felony murder for Bright’s death. Fermin was also charged with a count of conspiracy to commit a felony.

© 2010 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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