COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Update:
On April 29, it was determined that Kozmo suffered trauma consistent with an assault. From this news, Mesquite PD obtained probable cause to charge a 16-year-old male with interference with a police service animal (causing injury or death), which is a second-degree felony.
Kozmo was more than just a canine. He was an important member of the Mesquite Police Department and did what any other officer would do- protect and serve.
The 5-year-old dog joined the Mesquite Police department in 2017 and was killed in the line of duty Monday.
"These dogs aren't just dogs to us. These are members of our police family. Kozmo was an amazing and loyal dog and ultimately he gave his life the night before last, doing what he was trained to do," said Lt. Stephen Biggs with the Mesquite Police Department.
Lt. Biggs says K9s are officers too, and they are trained accordingly.
"They are trained for a particular purpose, and ultimately they know they may have to give their life so the life of another can be saved. That's potentially what happened the other night," he said.
Around 2:40 a.m. on April 26, Mesquite PD was asked to assist a neighboring police department in pursuing multiple aggravated robbery suspects.
During the pursuit, spike strips were deployed, disabling the suspect vehicle. The suspects took off on foot.
That's when K9 Kozmo was deployed to locate the suspects.
"With the help of another K9 and a helicopter, we located all of the robbery suspects, but Kozmo was still not located. About an hour and a half after the initial pursuit took place, we located Kozmo in the woods and he was deceased," Lt. Biggs said.
A necropsy, also known as an animal autopsy, is being conducted by Texas A&M's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital to determine the manner of Kozmo's death.
Lt. Biggs is grateful for the hospital staff, saying Aggieland resources have been there every step of the way.
"They had officers waiting for us there as kind of a procession to bring in Kozmo," Lt. Biggs shared. "As far as the work they are doing, A&M's veterinary program is considered one of the best in the nation. We know Kozmo is in good hands. If he did die at the hands of someone else, that will be determined. They will find that out, there is no doubt."
Texas A&M University PD says when they heard of K9 Kozmo's passing, they did what any other agency would do, jump in and assist.
"We were honored to step up and assist as much as we could. Certainly, our thoughts and prayers are with the Mesquite PD and we are here to help in any way we can," said Josh Deleon, public information officer with TAMU PD.
Retired police K9 handler and judge of Region 20's United States Police Canine Association Certification and Competition, Aaron Howell, was there to capture video of K9 Kozmo working with his handler one week before his passing.
"When you get called to a scene with a dog, they are not calling you, they are calling the one you are bringing to it. In the K9 world, we have to look for violent felons sometimes, murder suspects, ag robbery suspects, and we have to perform, and that's what we train and train and train, and that's what was part of this competition was, was training," Howell said. "I am fortunate. We were just lucky that he can have that. I wish I had that with some of my old dogs, a video of them, instead of a picture."
Lt. Biggs says K9s take on an extremely important role within departments.
"They do things that we can't do. Their sense of smell is 200x better than ours. Their ability to track, their agility to engage and ultimately go into a dangerous situation that maybe you don't want to put an officer in or you don't want to have to put an officer in," he explained.
Lt. Biggs says they are going to wait for the necropsy results to determine if additional charges will be filed.
"It's kind of like losing a brother or sister you work with on patrol. Kozmo has worked with everyone the last four years. He has gone out on patrol every night with Jason, his handler. It's really tough on the handlers because they work with these dogs, they live with these dogs. Jason has probably spent more time with Kozmo in the last four years than he has with his family. They are extremely loyal animals, and they are trained to do a particular task. Everyone works with Kozmo nightly, he's one of us," he said. "He's one of us, and he will be sorely missed."
Details on a memorial service with full honors for K9 Kozmo will be announced at a later date.
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