Police search for driver who hit Covington police cruiser, fled

Police search for driver who hit Covington police cruiser, fled

FLORENCE, KY (FOX19) – - Police are searching for a motorist whose pickup truck hit the back of a Covington SUV police cruiser and took off on southbound Interstate 71/75 early Thursday.

K9 Officer Michael Lusardi and his dog, Ernie, were both hurt and underwent medical treatment early Thursday, said Assistant Police Chief Brian Steffen.

They are home recovering. Lusardi is banged up, but fine, Steffen said.

The officer and K9, Ernie, were heading back from training, when a black Chevrolet Silverado struck the rear passenger side of the cruiser about 1:40 a.m. Thursday, police officials said.

The impact of the crash pushed the cruiser into a concrete barrier. Police also think the pickup truck hit the barrier.

Lusardi was taken to St. Elizabeth Florence, where he was treated and released. He is on medical leave from the department for further doctor evaluation and treatment, Steffen said.

Police officials initially said Ernie was not hurt. Later Thursday, Steffen said he was treated for an injury.

This is not the first time the K9 officer and Ernie have been wounded in the line of duty.

Ernie was shot by a bullet that went into his paw and leg April 22, 2015, when Lusardi, his handler, encountered an armed suspect who refused to surrender at Wheeler and Trevor streets.

Daleon Rice fired at the dog and Lusardi, who returned fire and wounded Rice in the leg before Rice ran off.

Lusardi suffered a minor injury, but Ernie required surgery. He has since recovered and is back on the job.

Rice recently was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the incident.

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