Police canine shot in line of duty returns to work - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Police canine shot in line of duty returns to work

Ernie, the Covington police K-9 shot in the line of duty, is returning to work. (Provided by Rob Sanders Twitter feed) Ernie, the Covington police K-9 shot in the line of duty, is returning to work. (Provided by Rob Sanders Twitter feed)
Daleon Rice (Provided by Kenton County jail) Daleon Rice (Provided by Kenton County jail)
COVINGTON, KENTUCKY (FOX19) - The police canine shot and wounded in the line of duty is returning to work.

Ernie and his handler, Covington Police Officer Mike Lusardi, were awarded citations for bravery and a standing ovation at Tuesday's Covington City Commission meeting, according to Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders.

Ernie was shot by a bullet that went into his paw and leg early April 22 when his handler encountered a suspect who refused to surrender at Wheeler and Trevor streets.

Daleon Rice, 34, is charged with firing at the dog and his handler, who returned fire and wounded Rice in the leg before Rice ran off about 2:15 a.m. 

Lusardi suffered a minor injury, but Ernie underwent surgery.

A manhunt ensued across Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati before Rice was apprehended on East Robbins Street by 7 a.m. He is held on $215,000 bond at the Kenton County jail.

He is charged in Kenton County with attempted murder on a police officer, assaulting a police officer, assaulting a police service animal, domestic violence, assault, fleeing and eluding or evading police. In Hamilton County, he faces charges of felony theft, safecracking and breaking and entering.

Sanders is calling for a change in state law to bring stiffer penalties for shooting police dogs. 

He says the assault of a police K-9 is only punishable by 1-5 years if the K9 is killed or cannot return to his duties. If the K9 makes a full recovery, the charge is dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

Ernie is the second Kenton County K-9 in eight months to be assaulted by a suspect. 

Kenton County Sheriff K-9 "Santo" was choked and stabbed by a suspect last year while trying to apprehend the individual who barricaded himself inside a home.

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