A gang member told Kern County sheriff’s deputies that he shot Axel, a Delano Police Department K-9, because he was afraid of getting bitten, according to Kern County Sheriff’s Office field case reports filed in Kern County Superior Court.
Suspect Edward Figueroa, 38, fired at least two times at Axel during a Jan. 1 standoff involving the McFarland Police Department and Delano Police Department, the reports filed in court said. Seven officers fired back, injuring Figueroa, the reports added. Both Figueroa and Axel are expected to live, according to KCSO officials.
KCSO deputies visited Axel at the Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital after the shooting. A doctor extracted bullet fragments from the dog’s right shoulder and his vertebrate near his shoulder or neck, according to the reports. Deputies could also see his hair had been shaved off his left side, and two visible lacerations, the reports said.
“Axel was very agitated and appeared to be in pain,” the KCSO stated in the court reports.
Axel is now at home and recovering, according to a statement posted on the Delano Police Department’s Facebook page, which added that it’s too soon to determine whether Axel can resume his former duties.
Cornerstone Bakery is creating a care package for Axel and accepting community donations. Residents can drop off chew toys, dog treats and monetary donations at the business located at 2100 19th St. in Bakersfield.
The incident started after McFarland Police Department officers initiated a traffic pursuit in the areas of East 3rd Street and Perkins Avenue in McFarland around 8:09 p.m. Jan. 1.
Figueroa led officers on a chase, where he committed multiple traffic violations, including running stop lights and stop signs, the reports said. Figueroa led officers to East Sherwood Avenue and San Lucas Street, where he refused to leave his car. Officers issued commands for Figueroa to step out with his hands raised, the reports added.
Despite several announcements, Figueroa refused to leave his car, the reports said. The officers deployed “pepper balls,” a type of less-lethal projectile, which did not appear to be effective for Figueroa, the reports added.
The reports state that officers attempted to use Figueroa’s own family members, who were standing nearby, to call on him to surrender. Announcements in English and Spanish, as well as warnings about K-9s being deployed were also issued, the documents said; however, Figueroa did not comply.
Officer Murguia created an arrest team to take Figueroa into custody, the reports said. Once the team was assembled, Murguia deployed his K-9. Axel approached Figueroa and entered the driver’s side of the vehicle.
Axel attempted to “gain control of Figueroa’s left arm,” when the firearm was discharged at the dog, the reports said.
After Figueroa shot the dog, seven police officers returned fire and hit the suspect and his Nissan Altima. He was taken to Kern Medical, where an officer conducted an interview. When asked if Figueroa expected to get shot, he said, “Of course I did.”
The defendant has been charged with 12 counts, including willfully harming a peace officer’s dog with a serious injury. His arraignment is scheduled for Monday.
You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @idesai98 on Twitter.
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