Fishers, IN – Fishers Police Department (FPD) K9 Harlej was killed in the line of duty while tracking an armed suspect early Wednesday morning.
The incident began at approximately 12 a.m. on Interstate 69, when Fishers police attempted to pull over a motorist who was suspected of driving while intoxicated, WXIN reported.
The driver refused to stop, leading officers on a vehicle pursuit that ended on Olio Road.
A female passenger remained inside the car, but the male driver took off on foot into the woods, the FPD said in a press release.
The woman was taken into custody, and K9 Harlej was called to the scene to track the male suspect, who was later identified as 19-year-old Richard Garrett.
An officer spotted Garrett in the wooded area, and deployed K9 Harlej after the suspect again failed to stop, police said.
“Shortly after, the officer heard a gunshot and K9 Harlej went missing,” the FPD said.
Garrett was apprehended several hours later with a minor leg injury.
He was transported to a local hospital, and was subsequently booked into the Hamilton County Jail.
“A short time later, officers found K9 Harlej in a wooded area,” the FPD said. “During his pursuit of the suspect, K9 Harlej was shot and succumbed to his injury.”
Police said that the five-year-old Belgian Malinois bit Garrett before the suspect fatally shot him, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Investigators are still trying to locate the weapon Garrett used to kill K9 Harlej, WRTV reported.
The female suspect, later identified as 19-year-old Rashaana Farrow, has been charged with false informing, according to the FPD.
She was also wanted on warrants out of Marion County at the time of the incident.
Garret has been charged with 10 preliminary offenses, including possession of a handgun without a license, unauthorized entry into a vehicle, possession of marijuana, resisting law enforcement, two counts of residential entry, theft/receiving stolen property, resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, and striking a law enforcement animal, according to the FPD.
"It is my belief that [K9 Harlej] saved lives last night, and we're thankful for his sacrifice," FPD Chief Ed Gebhart said during a press conference later Wednesday morning. “[He had a] very successful career.”
K9 Harlej joined the FPD in 2015, and served alongside his partner and handler, Fishers Police Officer Jarred Koopman, for his entire career, WXIN reported.
The incident marked the first line-of-duty death in the history of the FPD.
Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said that the community is indebted to K9 Harlej for his years of devoted service.
“K9 Harlej answered his last call early this morning protecting his fellow officers and our community,” Fadness tweeted. “We owe him & our men and women in uniform a debt of gratitude.”
The FPD said that a memorial service for the fallen K9 will be announced at a later date, WRTV reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fishers Police Department and Officer Koopman in the loss of K9 Harlej.