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K-9 officer dies in line of duty
US marshal accidently shot Niko during felony arrest
Niko, shown here during a demonstration, served five years protecting the people of Lathrop and San Joaquin County and helped apprehend over 50 suspects and assisted in over 400 arrests. - photo by Photo Contributed
LATHROP — A Lathrop Police Department K-9 officer was shot and killed Thursday afternoon during an incident involving a Multi Agency Task Force serving a fugitive arrest warrant in the 1200 block of Louise Avenue near Cambridge Drive.

According to Deputy Les Garcia, a public information officer for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, the police dog identified as Niko was struck by “friendly fire.”

 The 3 p.m. incident also included a pit bull terrier, with a U.S. Marshall accidentally striking the 6-year-old Dutch shepherd.

“The dog expired,” said Garcia, who noted that Niko had died some 90 minutes later. The police dog received medical treatment for the gunshot wound at a local veterinarian. Niko was a five year veteran credited with apprehending over 50 suspects and assisting in more than 400 arrests. Niko’s partner is Judy Lieberman.

The pit bull escaped serious injuries and was locked up in one of the rooms of the duplex as the Multi Agency Task Force – included are the Lathrop Police Department / San Joaquin County sheriff deputies, the state Department of Corrections and U.S Marshalls, to name a few – arrested 42-year-old Glen Franklin Hughes on the felony warrant.

Hughes had been arrested on Wednesday evening when a Delta Auto Theft Task Force officer noticed he was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado stolen out of Tracy. The earlier incident included a high-speed 100 mph pursuit that began on Airport Way and Yosemite Avenue, continuing along south Manteca and into rural Ripon. That chase ended in the arrest of another suspect. Dillion Gardner, 30, was arrested on auto theft charges after being treed Wednesday in a Ripon orchard by Manteca Police K-9 officer Gage. Officers indicated at the time they never would have found Gardner – a Redding resident wanted in his hometown on multiple felony charges – if it hadn’t been for the dog.

Sheriff’s deputies, meanwhile, are conducting an investigation of the dog bite while U.S. Marshalls will look into the shooting, Garcia said.

An initial report from dispatch indicated that ambulance had declined service for the K-9 Unit.

Dana Solomon, chief executive officer for Manteca District Ambulance, told the Bulletin that the ambulance board policy does include transporting a police dog. But that’s if one is available.